Vote

The St. Clair Elks Lodge remained a relatively busy place on Tuesday as individuals cast their votes in the presidential primary election. The Elks Lodge is the location where St. Clair out-of-town voters cast ballots.    Missourian Photo.

With accusations flying at the national level regarding voter fraud and rigged elections, Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door says it is not a concern here.

Door, who has served as the county’s top election official since 2003, added during her tenure, there haven’t been any reports of residents attempting fraud.

“I’ve had phone calls about our election equipment because of all the hype on Facebook, the Internet and the media,” Door said. “Although there may have been voter fraud in some states, I believe there are limited instances in Missouri.

“Our voters should believe that we, all 350 of us, who try to protect their right to vote, are doing this job as a public service. Our judges make about $125 per day for a 13- to 15-hour day. They don’t do it for the money. Protecting their right to vote is a privilege that we all take very seriously. I am proud of the job that my staff and election judges do.”

Door added she had a hard time getting election judges for this election.

“For those people who think that there is something going on, please just sign up as an election judge and see what precautions and other measures we take to prevent fraud,” she said. “Remember, everything that we do is done with a bi-partisan team. This is serious business and we will do everything we can to make sure it is done professionally, accurately and by the book. To me, it is hard to imagine how voter fraud would occur other than a voter voting in the wrong precinct or voting, in say St. Louis, then voting in Chicago.”

Stuffing

In addition to people possibly voting twice, the term “stuffing the ballot box” is used frequently during election time, inferring extra votes for candidates are added.

Door explained there is a rigorous process that each ballot undergoes to prevent additions or subtractions from occurring.

All ballots are fed into the ballot box by the voter when they have completed their voting.

Throughout the day, a bipartisan team of judges check the number of ballots cast versus the number of voters they have sign in on the poll pads.

If a ballot is not read properly by the ballot box, it will reject it and a piece of paper will tell the voter why the ballot was rejected, such as over vote. The ballots are boxed up at the end of the day and put into “Voted Ballot” boxes and signed by all election judges.

“They are then brought over to my office by a bi-partisan team,” Door said. “At that time, all ballots and equipment are unloaded and sorted as to where the election supplies, voted and unvoted ballots are stored. The voted ballot boxes are not opened unless it is a precinct that is manually recounted after the election, as part of our logic and accuracy process.”

She added the bipartisan team hand tallies three precincts.

This is done on Thursday after the election before certification.

At that time, all provisional ballots also are reviewed to determine if they are valid ballots and final certification is done on Friday after the election.

“The certificate of ballot accounts for every ballot sent, voted ballots, spoiled ballots and unvoted ballots,” Door said. “If there is a discrepancy, the process stops until they determine why there is a difference.”

Electioneering

Another more common problem on election days all over the country is electioneering, or campaigning for a candidate too near a polling place.

“Missouri law allows someone to electioneer, but at least 25 feet from the outside door closest to the door that voters come into the voting area,” Door said. “We do have a couple of precincts that we really have to watch. The candidates just can’t seem to wrap their heads around what 25 feet looks like. The judges try to use a chalk line to mark the 25-foot boundary, but in a busy election that is sometimes hard to police. If we have to ask someone to move, we try to be courteous about it, but if pushed, we will contact the local police or the sheriff’s department for assistance.”

Problems

With everyone on heightened alert for any types of election fraud, or even simple mistakes by poll workers, Door says the pressure is on her and her staff to be absolutely perfect.

“There are a lot of moving parts to an election. For this election we will use about 350 people, and for some of them it will be their first time working as an election judge or voting assistant specialist, and the veterans only do this once or twice a year,” Door said. “Everyone has to do their job in order for it to run smoothly, whether it’s in my office or out in the field on Election Day.”