Jaemi Hagen: Hello. I’m Jaemi Hagen. And I’m a contractor with the Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing. My work here includes voter outreach, Census 2020 outreach, preparations for Lobby Day 2021, and doing interviews for the #CanDoAnything campaign. Today I’m here with Kelsey Dahl and Emory Kevin Dively to talk about their election judge experience.
We will start with the first question. Emory and Kelsey, can you share a little bit more information about yourselves, and please share your name, where you’re from, and why you feel that voting is important.
Emory K. Dively: Thank you, Jaemi. My name is Emory Kevin Dively. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. As for why voting is important to me. I don’t want my decisions made by the government or other people. I feel strongly about making decisions for myself. For example, I care where our tax dollars go, what the government does, what our legislature does. I want to make sure that I am involved in the decision-making on what goes around me. So that is how I am involved. I vote. For example, issues related to the Deaf community, I want to make sure that I speak out and impact how decisions are made. If I don’t vote, then my opinion won’t be involved with making decisions going forward. That’s why I feel strongly about voting.
Kelsey Dahl: Hello. My name is Kelsey Dahl. I am from Minnesota, born and raised here. I lived in Golden Valley while growing up and then I moved to Isanti. Really the Post Office recognizes Isanti but the township I live in is really Athens Township. I’ve lived here since 2016, in Isanti County. I feel voting is very important because I want deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing people to have more access to things that really impact us. It’s really important to vote. It helps us increase our influence on how the country is run including locally (at home), with everything related to money, civil rights, discrimination, and many other topics. It’s so important to be involved.
Jaemi Hagen: Thank you, Emory and Kelsey, for sharing your experiences and who you are. Now, let’s talk about serving as an election judge. What are your duties, tasks, and responsibilities? What does an election judge actually do?
Kelsey Dahl: You will see election judges when you go to your polling place. They are lined up and help you register, verify your address. When you go up to an election judge, you’re going to give them your name and which party is going to be voted for. They give you your ballot information. After you are finished with voting you put the ballot in the machine. That is our role, we monitor the voting process. At the same time, if anyone needs any help, we are here to help fix any errors such as with the machines. We have a lot of different duties during the elections process.
Emory K. Dively: So for the past six years, I have served as an election judge. My experience is a bit different. Kelsey shared a long list of responsibilities. I specifically did one of those responsibilities and have been what is called a ballot judge. Let me explain what a ballot judge does. When people enter the polling place to register, they then receive a blue or yellow card which means they can vote. Then I give them a ballot and show them how to fill it out properly to prevent any errors or mistakes while they are filling it out. Every hour, we typically pause and check how many ballots we’ve received thus far. Then it is our responsibility to check the machine and count how many ballots the machine has received, to make sure that our numbers and the machine’s numbers match. We’re strict and we don’t want any errors. We need to make sure that voting is correct. I have the authority to pause the voting in that area and say, “there’s a mistake. There’s a number off.” and find the mistake. I don’t do this alone. There is a team of us working together. We count everything and compare numbers and make sure everything is right before we can go forward. That protects the integrity of the voting process. It matters because you’d be surprised how many votes are decided or how many elections are decided by just one vote. You think it might not be a big deal, but it does happen often. So that’s my responsibility, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I have no problems communicating with folks there. We’re just working with numbers and counting, and so people are good about communicating with me and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Due to character limits, the full transcript is available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IyOKgWmyfGsjxXS0G572F3bm6t7XADaXbnHsgdFn0Ng/edit?usp=sharing
The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing thanks:
Kelsey Dahl & Emory K. Dively for sharing their experiences.
Jaemi Hagen for asking excellent questions.
Patty McCutcheon for voiceover.
Keystone Interpreting Solutions for film production.