As my internship draws to a close, I figured I would write about the Election Day. It was definitely a hectic day, and everything leading up to elections was very stressful. I put in a lot of overtime, but I’m very happy to say that everything turned out very well.
In Michigan, the polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, which means I had to get to work at 6:00 am. I knew that this would be a bit of a challenge, so I took my huge cup of coffee and ran out of the door to get to the Clerk’s office. As soon as I stepped into the office, everything was hectic. No one had much time to wake up; we all just switched into overdrive. We had to help set up the precincts, make sure that everyone’s programs were correctly set up, they all had the right amount of ballots, and they all knew what to do.
In the beginning, we received a lot of calls from confused poll workers because there were some problems with the systems. Luckily, the other interns and I were able to help them work their way through these problems and get the polls opened in time. While people were voting at the polls, I was stationed at the front desk to direct people to their correct precinct and accept absentee ballots that still came in. We were not allowed to take breaks during the day because the polls never closed, so it was definitely a high energy day.
By mid-afternoon, I was exhausted from all the problems we had run into and fixed for the precincts. But I knew it was going to be a long day, so I kept my morale up and put on a smile for the voters. We kept this going until around 8:00 pm when the polls finally closed. By this time, we needed all the precincts to come back to the Clerk’s Office so we could check back all of their supplies and make sure they balanced. Balancing is when they account for all of the ballots they were given for the day (whether they went to voters, were defective, or unused). Luckily, all of the precincts came back balanced, but it did get very hectic at the end of the day. All of the poll workers had been there since 6:00 am too, so we were all ready to go home. I’m sure everyone can imagine the stress of the day and the anxiousness to finally go home.
It took us around 4 hours after the polls closed to get all of the equipment back and sorted and to get our reports in. Thankfully, there were no major problems, but a lot of work went into this election, and it was just a primary! I could only imagine how hectic a presidential election would be.
This internship has been a phenomenal experience. I feel that I have gained a lot of knowledge on how elections work as well as local governments. I have also gained valuable skills by working on projects and being responsible for the outcome of something that mattes. While I am most likely not going to continue a career in the Clerk’s Office, it was an amazing experience and an awesome way to spend my summer.