Special Reports

Working In the Elections: An Election Officer Recounts Her Experience from 2012


In the aftermath of president-elect Trump's victory, let's not forget to give credit to the men and women who worked on the sidelines - the election officers who were there when voters came on election day and remained there until the last person cast his or her vote before closing time.

What was it like sitting on that table and facilitating? Aine Cain shares us her experience working for the 2012 presidential election.

"I signed up."

As a freshman in the College of William and Mary, an apolitical Aine got involved in a campus group that reaches out to students. She later got an email saying there was a need for volunteer election officers.

Ms. Cain signed up because she thought it would be fun and getting a pin is cool.

Aine was assigned to a polling station in Williamsburg,Virginia and here's a brief description of her work.

A 5:00 a.m. call time

While polling stations would open later and may even have varying times, the volunteers we're required to report to work at 5:00 am wearing their appropriate business casual attires.

"I was an absentee voter then."

Since the work would last the whole day on election day, Aine had to vote ahead of election day and submit an absentee ballot. Plus, her polling precinct was on the other side of town from the polling station she was manning.

Paid work and free food

Just like other fair and honest jobs, the volunteers were paid $100 for the work they rendered on election day. There was even a $25 bonus for attending the training session. Plus, there's free food. Chips, sandwiches, cookies and drinks were given away for lunch and dinner.

The work's really not that hard

For the most part, Aine said the job is pretty easy. Volunteers just need to check the voter's photos from their IDs and make sure that the details on their polling match. There will be times the crowd will grow and telling people they were in the wrong voting precinct can be stressful.

Talking politics is not allowed

Poll officers were not allowed to bring political materials or talk politics on election day. Aine thinks it's only natural that they put politics aside and just help people cast their votes.

It's a long work day

From the 5:oo a.m. call time some polling stations would close at 7:00 p.m. just like the one in Williamsburg. However, people who came out and are waiting in line for their turn will be allowed to cast their ballots before polling officers can close up the precinct and start packing up. Officers are not allowed to leave until everything is done. Aine said she wasn't included in the counting process so she got to go home at about 10:00 p.m

But there's the pin

The work isn't exceptionally hard but it was a long day and one awesome thing our young volunteer got from the experience was her pin.

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