This year's election has been one for the books with record breaking poll numbers. I myself had the chance to embark on this journey as a first time voter, and must say it was eye opening.
You never really know what all goes into something so colossal until you experience it first hand. This election was definitely one for the books, and I am so grateful to have been able to share it with my Richland library co-workers and the members of my community. I was able to not only use my voice by voting, but also to help others participate in the power of using theirs by becoming a poll manager.
How to Become a Poll Manager:
Becoming a poll manager requires you to pass 2 exams to be certified to work and also to receive payment for your service. This year things were altered a little because of COVID-19. You were able to attend an in-person class or virtually, but the exams were virtual.
Expect to dedicate anywhere from 4-10hrs to educate yourself on what it means to be a poll manager. A lot of resources are located at SCVOTES.GOV including the poll manager manual.
What to Expect:
When you pass your exams, you will be notified by the commissioner's office to find out which precinct you'll be designated to. It should be noted that your shift as a poll manager consists of at least 14hrs--polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.; however, it is recommended for poll workers to arrive by at least 6 a.m. for opening procedures.
Also, be sure to bring food and drink, and get plenty of rest the night before.
What Will the Experience Be Like?
During the 2020 general election, more than 20 of my Richland Library teammates chose to volunteer to work in the community as poll managers. While nothing can totally prepare you for the personal experience you'll have as a poll manager, here's a peek at what working the polls was like for some of our seasoned and green poll managers.
"Election day went smoothly and without incident at my precinct, with voters who were all cordial and grateful to the poll managers for making the day possible. My biggest take away was how helpful the poll watchers were. We had three over the day and they were pleasant, assistive, and supportive of both workers and voters. It was a most validating and wonderful experience." – Kelsey A., Richland Library Main
"From voter registration forms to absentee ballot requests to Richland Library encouraging employees to become poll workers. Not to mention Richland Library employees creating a treat bag for each of us that volunteered! My treat bag contained enough goodies to share with fellow poll workers at my location. One of the "Vote" stickers went to an enthusiastic junior poll worker who will not be old enough to vote until the next election. Election Day turned out to be much easier than expected. There were enough workers, enough equipment, and so many people had voted early that there were never long waits at my precinct. Thank you, Richland Library, for the support and encouragement." – Elizabeth M., Richland Library Ballentine
"We were all green including the first-time clerk so our expectations at first were low. However, we took the training we received and the various manuals, pulled together and got all the machines going. There were a couple of technical glitches but our poll technician, Mike resolved them quickly. So, we opened the location at 7AM sharp and by 9:30 am we had cleared the steady line of voters. From that point on we had a slow, steady stream of voters as out district had around 50% absentee votes. At this point we relaxed a little and took in the experience and it wasn't bad at all." – Thaddeus B., Richland Library Main
"This was my first time working as a poll manager and I found it to be a truly rewarding experience.We had the opportunity to learn more about our duties from the four seasoned poll workers which had been working that polling place for years. Looking forward to doing this again in the future." – Chantal W., Richland Library Main
"The polling equipment worked great! We didn't experience any problems with the equipment and all the poll managers gravitated to jobs that best suited their strengths. I watched for curbside voters, which we had 21 in total. I greeted them, took their identification inside to get their ballot while another poll manager rolled the voting machine to them so they could cast their vote after walking them through the process. It was easy, and I enjoyed working with the voters in this way." – Becky P., Richland Library Main
"One of the most awesome parts of election day was celebrating the first-time voters as well as observing a 97-year-old come in to vote. It really hit home that it takes all of us—ages 18 to 100—to share our voices to make our democracy work at its best." – Kate B., Richland Library Main
"Around lunchtime, Mayor Benjamin stopped by to say "Hi" and brought us pizza from Dano's. Later in the afternoon, the most adorable couple, ages 96 & 97, arrived to vote curbside, thanks to a ride from their daughter. They asked if they got an ice cream cup for being the oldest voters, and while we couldn't deliver on that, they were delighted to receive their "I Voted" stickers. Later that evening at 6:59 p.m., as we were pealing tape off the floors and taking down signs, we saw one last car pull into the parking lot. A group of us waved her in, telling her she had only a minute left and better hurry. She thought she had until 8! Nevertheless, she made it just in time and we applauded her as she submitted the last ballot." – Sarah S., Richland Library Main
"With more than 50% of the voter's from my precinct taking advantage of early voting, it gave everyone a chance to engage with the 15% of patrons they voted in person and have a well-rounded training with the equipment as well as other tasks. I personally enjoyed the chance to interact and get to know my neighbors and my fellow poll workers, some of which included the Chair of the Richland library Friends and foundation Board. This was truly a great way to interact with and serve our community." – Lisa D., Richland Library Ballentine
"This is my 3rd election as a poll manager. The most rewarding part of working is being able to work with members of my community—some were new poll managers and some even had decades of experience. Everyone was excited to do a good job and serve our corner of Richland county." – Leslie D., Richland Library Main
"We got so many compliments from our voters regarding how organized and easy voting was for them. Being a poll manager was a great experience." – Gwendolyn M., Richland Library Ballentine
"Being a poll worker is rewarding. It’s a way to serve the community and to support people as they exercise their civic responsibilities. To see so many people come to the voting polls and to overhear their diverse views on the issues, my faith is renewed in our democracy and in our communities, who want to have the right people in place to make decisions. As a believer in the power of the vote, in our democracy, and in our communities, I am proud to help people participate in our elections." – Lillian G., Richland Library Southeast
"It was great seeing friends and neighbors excited to make their voice heard during this contentious election. I was proud to help the wheels of democracy turn and do my civic duty, and I sure was thankful to have a nice warm bed to crawl into that night!" – Morgan R., Richland Library Sandhills
Thank you to everyone who served our community as a poll manager! Ready to get involved? Find opportunities for civic engagement here. Otherwise, we'll see you at the next election!