Busy year for a first-time election judge
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The line snaked out of the room and along a corridor of the Garfield County Courthouse. And more and more people were queuing up.
As the early balloting window in Colorado was winding down to its last few hours Friday, Garfield County election judge Pat Rangel, 57, had a little time to talk. Despite the apparent free time she had, Rangel had some serious responsibilities in this year’s early balloting in Garfield County.
“I am accountable for all the electronic equipment and making sure all the ballots, once we’re finished, get back upstairs where they need to be,” Rangel said of her responsibilities during early balloting the last two weeks. “All of us working together did a great job to get (early balloting) done.”
Although statistics show that just more than half of the county’s voters have already cast their ballot, Rangel, 57, of Carbondale, thinks local judges will still have their hands full Tuesday.
“It is going to be busier than what people are used to,” she said.
During that day, Rangel will be in Carbondale helping the other election judges troubleshoot any problems that may crop up with the electronic voting machines.
“I am not fearful of the technology side of it,” said Rangel, who previously worked on computer systems for the government.
As the voters made their way through the polling location at the courthouse on Friday ” the last day of early voting ” Rangel said the surge of voters coming in to cast their ballots that day was “nonstop.” From Monday to Friday this week, the number of voters coming in to the courthouse to vote grew steadily higher each day.
“Today has been the busiest day,” she said Friday. “We knew it was going to be.”
As the voters went through the courthouse, Rangel said there was a high level of excitement among voters.
“There are a lot of new voters,” she said. “There’s even older people who say this is their first time voting.”
Rangel’s road to becoming a Garfield County election judge started when she and her husband, Fred, moved to the Roaring Fork Valley about two years ago to enjoy their retirement. After their move, Rangel decided to become an election judge so she could learn about the political issues facing the county and the state.
“I thought, ‘This is a great way to learn more,'” Rangel said.
The opportunity to be an election judge appeared when Colorado held its caucuses in February, an event that saw a large turnout of local voters. When someone asked if anyone was interested in serving as an election judge, Rangel put her name down on a list of those who were interested.
“And here I am,” Rangel said.
Rangel said all election judges are volunteers, and that the county reimburses them a “little bit” for their long hours. She said serving as an election judge has been a great way for her to learn more about the election process and meet new people.
Rangel said one of the most notable experiences she has had during this election season has been witnessing all the new voters who have come in to cast a ballot. She recalled one voter who wanted to cast a paper ballot just to be able to one day “reminisce and say, ‘I can remember when we voted on paper.'”
“That has been a unique thing,” Rangel said.
Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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