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County gears up for big election day

While it may only take a few minutes to vote, countless hours ofpreparation are spent every election year in order to make sure theprocess is as quick and easy as possible.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into getting ready for electionday,” said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Case.

Election day preparation begins with keeping an updated list ofall registered voters in Lincoln County. The area’s five electioncommissioners check the list throughout the year so there will beno unnecessary delays on election day.

The list of registered voters must be completely accurate byelection day. This requires making any changes, such as addresses,names or voting locations, long before ballots are prepared.

“We have to know how many voters are registered at eachprecinct, so we can order a sufficient number of ballots,” said LeeWarren, one of Lincoln County’s election commissioners.

After estimating the number of voters who will participate in anelection, ballots are prepared and ordered for each precinct, saidCase. Election officials are expecting a big turnout Tuesday whenvoters go to the polls to make make their choices in races forPresident, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, a state Supreme Courtseat, two county school board offices and electioncommissioner.

The ballot preparation process must also be extremely accuratebecause each precinct does not use the same ballot. Electionofficials must make sure all positions are on the correct ballots,she added.

Another important part of the pre-election day preparation issupplying enough poll workers at each precinct.

“We couldn’t conduct the elections without the poll workers,”said Case about the individuals who play vital roles in makingelections successful.

Each precinct must have at least three poll workers, including abailiff, initial clerk and box manager, on site from 7 a.m. – 7p.m. The poll workers, who are chosen by election commissioners,must train for election day by participating in classes ahead oftime.

“We use relatively the same poll workers each time, maybepicking up one or two new ones a year, but generally the same oneswork the polls,” said Bernard McClelland, one of Lincoln County’selection commissioners.

After all poll workers have been selected, election officialsbegin organizing materials necessary for election day.

“The weekend before election, we have to prepare the supplyboxes, which have sign-in pads, proper pencils to mark the ballotsand of course, the ballots,” said Case, adding that the supplyboxes are then taken to their respective precincts.

The final hours before each election day are also filled withpreparation, including making sure all absentee voters areaccounted for by placing a list at each precinct. This list isusually completed just hours before polls open because absenteeballots are accepted by mail until 5 p.m. the day before elections,said Case.

On the eve of election day, precincts must also be spruced upfor the big day, added Case.

“A lot of the facilities, like schools and fire stations, havethe normal routines disrupted to make election day possible, buteverybody is very helpful and obliging,” said Case, about theprocess that includes setting up booths and tables for voters.

One change this year involved the High School precinct, wherepeople had been voting in the old activities building.

However, the building was torn down during construction of a newclassroom wing at Brookhaven High School. Case said voters Tuesdaywill vote at the Vo-Tech Building, which is within eyesight of theold activities building location.

During election day, officials continue to ensure the votingprocess is running smoothly at all precincts in the county.

“We go by and visit the polls during election day to make sureeverything is going good,” said McClelland.

After all votes have been cast, the polls are closed down andelection commissioners begin the verification process. Aftercertifying all ballots, the votes are counted and the results aretallied.

The unofficial totals are generally announced the night of theelection, but the work for election officials continues for daysafter the election.

“We have to make sure all the laws are followed,” saidMcClelland.