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Poll Workers Prepare For Onslaught Of Voters

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Poll Workers Prepare For Onslaught Of Voters

Election 2008

Poll Workers Prepare For Onslaught Of Voters

Poll Workers Prepare For Onslaught Of Voters

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/96437756/96437747" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Behind every ballot is a poll worker — democracy's unsung heroes. Two poll workers in Palm Beach County, Fla., Pamela Goodman and Eleanore Kresch talk about the responsibility.

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Across the country, election officials are bracing for what's expected to be record-breaking turnout on Tuesday. Remember Palm Beach County, Florida, home of the hanging chad? Well, this time around, Palm Beach is expecting that 80 to 85 percent of registered voters will cast ballot. More than 100,000 already have since polls opened for early voting almost two weeks ago. All this democracy in action requires an army of poll workers.

Ms. PAMELA GOODMAN (Poll Worker, Palm Beach County, Florida): My name is Pamela Goodman, and I will be a precinct clerk in Delray Beach, Florida, which is in Palm Beach County, Florida, on Tuesday, November 4th.

SEABROOK: Pamela Goodman will lead a team of 12 poll workers on election day. It's a huge job, involving weeks of preparation and attention to details.

Ms. GOODMAN: So, I actually stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to the polls. Luckily, they're open at 5:00 A.M. I grab doughnuts, and I grab a big box of their coffee so that I have some sugar and some caffeine to give my workers first thing when they get in.

Ms. ELEANORE KRESCH (Poll Worker, Palm Beach County, Florida): Call me Eleanore.

SEABROOK: Eleanore Kresch will be one of those poll workers helping Pamela Goodman on Tuesday. She's 81 and has already put in seven days of work at the early voting polls in Palm Beach County.

Ms. KRESCH: People have been coming out from work there, their jobs, their homes. There are many people that are shut ins, and somehow, they come with canes and walkers and their oxygen tanks, and this is an excitement that brings people out.

SEABROOK: So, what's your job like on election day?

Ms. KRESCH: Well, my job is - for the early voting, my job is called floor specialist. I direct people. We give them their ballots. We send them to the various printers to have the printing done, make sure that when they're through voting, that they vote in the right booth and used the pen that's been assigned for the booth. We just try to keep everything running smoothly. We want to get the lines moving as fast as we can.

SEABROOK: How long did you work yesterday?

Ms. KRESCH: Yesterday, well, because of the tremendous influx of people coming, my day started with a 4:30 in the morning shower. We had to arrive at six A.M. in the morning.

SEABROOK: Holy cow!

Ms. KRESCH: And then the doors opened, and the voting started at seven A.M.

SEABROOK: So, what time did you get out of there?

Ms. KRESCH: We left - I left at nine P.M.

SEABROOK: That's a 15 hour day.

Ms. KRESCH: It's OK. It's worth it. People are getting what the - to do what they want to do, and that is to vote.

SEABROOK: What's your most memorable day at the polls in all your years working at the polls?

Ms. KRESCH: I have to go back to the year 2000.

SEABROOK: What happened?

Ms. KRESCH: Well, people realized that there was a mistake that they made. And they came back and wanted to change their vote, and they wanted to see the ballot again.

SEABROOK: This was the chad problem on the butterfly ballot.

Ms. KRESCH: Yes, it was. It was a very - it was not happy for anyone.

SEABROOK: Eleanore Kresch, you're 81 years old?

Ms. KRESCH: Yeah.

SEABROOK: And you're working these kinds of days?

Ms. KRESCH: Yeah. I'm happy to.

SEABROOK: How do you do it?

Ms. KRESCH: I guess with the same feeling that everybody else does, that they want to get out and vote. Somebody has to help them vote. And if I'm privileged enough to be one of those people, yippee for me.

SEABROOK: Eleanore Kresch is a poll worker at the Hagen Ranch Library in Delray Beach, Florida.

Ms. KRESCH: Yes. ..TEXT: SEABROOK: Thank you so much for speaking with us.

Ms. KRESCH: Thank you.

SEABROOK: Special thanks to WXEL in Boynton Beach, Florida. When you vote, let us know what happens at the polls. Did you have a problem with broken machines or a long wait? Send us a text message, a voice mail, or a twitter. To learn more, go to npr.org/votereport.

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