116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
One thing I am frequently told by voters while I’m on duty during early voting season is “Thank you for volunteering to do this.”
Election workers are not volunteers. They are paid — a very reasonable wage, at that. That compensation is what allows the county to have expectations for its election workers that reflect the significance of their roles. Nevertheless, election workers, as I began to explain to voters who expressed their thanks, know that they are a part of something special.
Holding an election, especially a general election, involves a big variety of tasks and responsibilities. Many of the people who assume those responsibilities do not come in contact with the voter and therefore may not have the opportunity to be told how appreciated they are for their service to their county, state and country. I wish to pass on the gratitude from voters on by offering my own thanks to Linn County election workers — all of them.
To the Precinct Elections Officials (PEOs) who served 94 different precincts on Election Day: You arrived at your polling places before the sun was up and left around 9 p.m. You packed your lunch, your dinner, a coffee mug and your favorite water bottle. You followed very specific and detailed procedures to set up your equipment. You welcomed voters and served them for 13 straight hours without ever leaving the building. Then you followed your procedures again, packed it all up, and saw each other off after a long and tiring day. Thank you.
To the PEO Chairpersons: You were in charge of your polling places. You took extra training and made extra preparations. You were there to oversee the operations and lead your workers. You juggled supplies and equipment. You handled the occasionally difficult situation and communicated with election office staff when an issue needed attention. Thank you.
To the front desk workers at the elections office: You took phone calls from voters in the days, weeks and even months leading up to the election. You fielded questions about polling locations, absentee deadlines, sample ballots, and voter registrations. On Election Day, when a polling place chairperson had questions, their calls went to you. Those phones rang constantly. You were there to answer them. Thank you.
To the Election Day recruiter and coordinators: You worked for months forming a pool of hundreds of PEOs for the big day. Your phone calls and emails numbered in the thousands. You followed up with them to make sure they took their training. You went to painstaking detail to fill each assignment while ensuring that each site had an even number of Republican and Democrat election officials, keeping that partisan balance that is so crucial to an open and transparent process. Thank you.
To the mailroom staff: You worked daily in a rickety old building keeping paperwork meticulously sorted. You double-checked your labels on your envelopes and triple-checked the ballots you put into them. You kept detailed records to track your work and ensured that those who requested a mail ballot got it as quickly as possible. Thank you.
To the early voting workers: Some of you were seasoned veterans of election work. Some of you had never worked an election before. All of you showed up to do a job, and do it well. For 20 days, you served voters face-to-face in a time of extremely strong political sentiment. You took special care of elderly and disabled voters. You offered your congratulations to newly-eligible voters casting a vote for the very first time.
You served voters at their vehicles, called “curbside voting,” when circumstances warranted it. You reveled in a fast-paced atmosphere, serving one voter at a time with warmth and confidence in the skills that you acquired so quickly. You showed up on time for your shifts and stayed until every last piece of equipment was stored and ready to be pulled out and set up the next day. You worked in a county building, a shopping mall, a couple libraries, and some college campuses. You were jovial with your colleagues, leaning on each other for support and encouragement. Thank you.
To the early voting “team leads”: You worked every shift paired with a colleague of the opposite party. You formed trusting partnerships that could never be tainted by the bitterness of these political times. You kept sensitive materials in a bipartisan chain of custody and transported them in big clunky vehicles to and from your early voting locations. You supervised a team of workers — not by telling them how to do their jobs but by showing them. You didn’t work above them — you worked alongside them, leading with grace and humor. I am so proud to call myself one of you. Thank you.
To the technical workers: You had the incredible job of making sure all of the equipment was ready. You ran tests of every machine — small, large, simple or complicated. You kept checklists of every item that PEOs would need on Election Day and you filled kits with those items for every site. You did the heavy lifting and the hauling; the programming and the problem-solving. You traveled each on your own little circuit of polling places during Election Day, making your rounds multiple times throughout the day to be available to PEOs in person. Thank you.
To the ballot controller: You had the mind-boggling job of receiving each day’s load of cast ballots during the early voting period. You ensured that the number of ballots delivered matched the number of ballots logged into the system. You stored them expertly, accounting for each ballot and the date it was cast. You processed paperwork. You identified possible issues for resolution as quickly as possible. You worked afternoons and evenings and didn’t leave until the job was done each night, staying until 2 or 3 a.m. Thank you.
To the Absentee and Special Voter Precinct Board: You gathered in bipartisan teams on Election Day and undertook the significant task of scanning over 28,000 early voting ballots. A task like that cannot be completed without meticulous counting and sorting. You did it beautifully, saving every ballot and every envelope for safekeeping under state law. It was a long day — longer than anticipated — but you rallied and got the job done. Thank you.
To the permanent staff at Linn County Election Services: You put in long hours. You tackled an exhausting workload. You hired dozens of temporary workers and trained them in a very short amount of time. You had so many of your own official tasks, yet when the speed of our processes couldn’t keep up with the lines of voters waiting to cast their ballot, you jumped right in and worked alongside us to help keep wait times to a minimum. You treated us with respect and demonstrated your faith in our abilities, and when unfortunate issues arose to complicate things, you carried on with your heads held high and saw things through. Thank you.
And finally, to the Linn County Auditor: You put together an amazing team of people. Thank you for your faith — in all of us.
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