Poll inspectors share common goal: Voting works, essential to freedom

I grew up in the 1950s as a daughter of a World War II decorated veteran. We were taught voting is not only our right, but our responsibility.

In my late teens I traveled extensively in Europe and the middle east. I saw first hand countries where people did not have that right. Their leaders were put into power not by the vote, but through violent coups or the overthrow of the government.

I came to appreciate the freedoms we have in the USA, particularly our right to Vote. Voting is one of our fundamental rights, as stated by the Supreme Court, it is the preservation of all other rights. Since I was able to vote — age 21 — I have not missed any National elections, and few local ones.

Recently I became a poll inspector working at both local elections, such as school board, as well as state wide elections, like the one we recently had for governor, and other elected positions. To become a poll inspector I had to attend several hours of training where that went over every detail of the voting process. We were taught how to look up a person’s name to ensure they were indeed registered to vote.

Poll inspectors compare the signatures to ensure it is the same person voting as the one who registered. Affidavit ballots are given to those who insist they are registered, yet we cannot find their names.

We sit at the computer look up, with two people each representing the major political parties — one from the Republican party and one from the Democratic Party. After being found eligible to vote we give them a paper ballot which after they complete, they put it into one of the computers to be counted. The computer counts the vote, the paper ballot is preserved in the computer, and the person can leave knowing that their vote was counted.

At the end of voting, the paper ballots are retrieved from the computers and put into a locked carrier and taken to the county seat.

The two election board commissioners Brian Abrams, a Republican, and Luz Torres, a Democrat, are well versed in the voting process. Each a professional who takes their job as commissioner very seriously. They often come on site just to see how things are doing, addressing any issues or problems.

Given all of this, I was appalled to learn of a group of folks who are questioning our vote and making allegations of improprieties in our elections. I listened to these folks as several of them spoke during the public comment during legislature meetings. I heard their complaints and quickly thought they had no idea of what they were saying.

The group calling themselves — and yes they have a website — Chautauqua County Voter Integrity are leading the false charges. It also has come to light that this same group has been going to people’s homes asking questions, as if they were a legitimate county voter protection group. This intrusion can be seen by many as voter intimidation.

These people did not seem to have any knowledge of the specific training every poll worker must complete before working at any election. They do not seem to grasp we are sitting side by side with a member from the opposite political party — and get this, we get along. No one has any opportunity to distort or steal any votes. We all are there with only one purpose: to help eligible voters cast their vote.

I looked it up online, and discovered this is a recent national strategy to try to make us unsure of the vote. The big lie has hit our small county. Yes, big lie. The last presidential election was fair. No one stole votes. No fraud anywhere. U.S. Rep. Tom Reed held a town hall meeting in December 2020 by phone where he brought in a leading expert to try to counter each of the claims of fraud. Yet some in the meeting refused to accept the facts, no matter what evidence they were given. I applaud Reed for trying to shine truth over the lies. Sadly some appear to be driven more by politics than truth.

We do not have time for those who will use our vote as a tool for their own agenda.

Voting is and will remain the cornerstone of our democracy. Don’t allow the ill informed to cloud the facts.

Judi Lutz Woods is a Fredonia resident.


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