Poll volunteers work to help election run smoothly in mid-Missouri
JEFFERSON CITY - Leading up to the election, it is the various candidates and their staffs putting in all the work. Once Election Day arrives, it is the countless volunteers around the country that help the polls run smoothly.
With the potential for voter intimidation in this election, their jobs are even more important in this election. Janice Webb, who is volunteering in her seventh presidential election, said even while serving an important role, not everyone views volunteers in a positive light.
"There's probably a lot of distrust in the process. We've even heard a little bit of that this morning, that we have something to do with what happens at the machine when you put your ballot in, which is not the case," Webb said.
Despite some of that distrust, another poll volunteer, Mary Budnik, said being able to be a crucial part of America's democracy is worth some of the criticism.
"I believe in the freedom we have in America, and one of the ways we can express that freedom is through voting. So, I'm a firm believer that everyone should get out and vote," Budnik said.
The Jefferson City volunteers said they have to attend a one-hour training session to make sure they are squared away on all their duties before actually volunteering at the polls.
This year, various volunteers were responsible for checking voter registration cards, handing out ballots, helping people with voting questions, and making sure everyone submits their ballot into the voting machine correctly.
Budnik said she noticed the polls a lot busier this year and said she believes that's a result of the unusual presidential election season that has taken place in 2016.
"I would definitely say the turnout has been much greater. I definitely think a lot of people are very dissatisfied and want their voice to be heard, so, yes, I think everything that's been going on has made the difference," Budnik said.
Webb and Budnik said their polling place at 501 Madison Street in Jefferson City was on pace to break a record for votes cast there. As of 12:30 p.m., more than 400 votes had been cast in the generally small precinct.