PRINCETON — Since the announcement came that Bureau County was facing a shortage of election judges at 13 polling places for the upcoming March 20 primary election, citizens have stepped forward and offered a helping hand.
However, the county is still in need in some areas.
Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus said she still needs election judges in four polling places: Clarion Township, Fairfield Township, Macon Township and the village of Hollowayville.
If Hieronymus cannot get anyone to serve those areas, she may have to shut down those polling places. She is waiting until closer to the election to make those decisions.
“(A polling place) would only be closed in the event we cannot get enough judges to serve,” Hieronymus said.
“I will try to pull judges from other areas if need be in hopes to keep the polling places open.”
In the meantime, election judges themselves are trying to recruit anyone is who interested in fulfilling their civic duty.
Libby Dyer of Wyanet has served as an election judge for the past 19 years.
She said she enjoys doing it, because it gets her out the house and gives her the opportunity to see people from around her town she doesn’t get to see often.
Dyer said she’s trying to get people to sign up, but many do not favor the early morning hours the job requires.
A typical day for an election judge begins at 5 a.m. at the polling place. Election judges arrive to set up tables and get things organized for when people start coming in to vote at 6 a.m. The judges bring their lunches and snacks to help get them through the day. There’s always some downtime, too, according to Dyer.
At the end of the day, two election judges — a Democrat and a Republican — are tasked with getting the ballots to the courthouse after the polls have closed at 7 p.m.
“It seems to get easier every time as you learn things to do to make your day go,” she said.
“It’s a long day, but it’s not a bad day.”
Maureen Cattani of Ladd would agree with that statement. Cattani has served as an election judge for about 17 years. She admits she’s missed some years, due to being away during election season.
Cattani said it’s her civic duty and with there being a need, she feels she must step up and help.
“My philosophy has always been, if there’s a need and I can do it, then I need to do it,” she said.
Cattani believes a lot of people are intimidated about what the job entails, but it’s just the unknown that makes people afraid.
“I think it’s easier than you think it would be. …They never put you by yourself. They always put you with someone who has done it before,” she said, adding there’s a good support system to lean on, too.
“I’d say give it a try, because I think you’ll find out even though it’s a long day, it’s still enjoyable. And it makes you realize how many people don’t come out and vote,” she said.
Anyone interested in becoming an election judge should contact the county clerk’s office at 815-875-2014.