Meet two of Garfield County’s election judges, Charlotte Hood and Larry Singer
When Charlotte Hood arrives at the Garfield County Courthouse, 9 a.m. on the dot, she receives a warm welcome on a cold October morning. After all, Hood has worked as a “judge” for Garfield County for over a decade, just in a slightly different capacity.
No, everyone doesn’t rise when Hood enters the room, nor does she wear a black cloak or hand down lengthy sentences.
But, make no mistake, the off-the-cuff, yet by-the-books Glenwood Springs native still ensures justice prevails for voters with varying political ideologies from Carbondale to Parachute as a Garfield County election judge.
“I don’t know, 2004 or 2005, I showed up here as an election judge, not having any idea what I was getting into,” Hood says with a smile. “I got into it basically because some other former teachers had been into it.”
After Hood “retired” from teaching English and physical education at Basalt High School for 25 years, she elected to do something, safe to say, most teachers — or anyone for that matter — would not.
“I went back to Re-1 as a janitor. I spent five years as a janitor at Glenwood Springs Middle School,” the Glenwood High and Colorado State University graduate said with a laugh.
No stranger to hard work, Hood’s hands, this October morning, look as though they have already completed a grueling day’s work, and it has only just begun.
To give one an idea of Ms. Hood’s family’s long line of family history in the valley, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States when Hood’s grandparents began their family ranch.
“I actually live in South Canyon,” Hood said. “I have lived there my entire life on the family ranch, which my grandparents founded in 1905.”
“I manage a ranch. I have 62 cows. I have a bunch of sheep. I have a bunch of goats,” Hood said. “I had to get up this morning and feed.”
In a country plagued by partisanship, election rules, obviously call for a balanced, bipartisan coalition of election judges. And, as Hood points out, integrity for the voters and ensuring the voice of the people gets heard remains at the forefront of every election judge’s mind.
“We all basically like each other,” Hood jokes. “It is people from all walks of life out there,” she said of Garfield County’s numerous election judges.
One of those other “walks of life,” Larry Singer works to ensure voter signature verifications for Garfield County. He took the job,for a bit of a different reason than Hood.
“I moved to the valley, about four years ago, from Boulder,” Singer said. “I have been working elections for Garfield County for the last four years — primaries, general elections — and specifically I have been working with signature verifications because that, with all mail in ballots, that is a real place of crucial importance.”
Singer, who grew up in New Jersey, remembers his mother — from his earliest recollections — had always worked in elections. After retiring from dentistry in Boulder, Singer followed in his mother’s footsteps and worked as a watcher during the 2012 election for Boulder County.
“In Boulder, at the time … there were certain, very egregious infractions … and that has led me to continue to be involved to help oversee the elections.”
Boulder’s numerous infractions leading up to the 2014 general election as outlined by the Secretary of State’s Office left a bad taste in the former dentist’s mouth, to the point where he left. It wasn’t because he lost faith in the system, but in fact, just the opposite.
Like Hood, Singer wanted to ensure that the will of the people was heard and fairly; just how his mother had guaranteed for voters in the New Jersey precinct she once worked for.
“The mission of our republic and having a democratic process is the checks and balances,” Singer said. “Elections are for the citizens and by the citizens.”
“When you enter the building, you leave [party affiliation] behind,” Singer added.
Hood and Singer show no signs of slowing down and, without question, embody the different walks of life Hood spoke to.
After all, Hood worked as a teacher, janitor and rancher, and Singer a dentist.
Both, though, care deeply that the voters of Garfield County have their voices heard this Tuesday.
With Colorado’s 2018 ballot being as long as the United States’ 1776 Declaration of Independence, they and all of the election judges still have a lot of work to do.
“How long do I see myself doing this? Well, I guess as long as I am able, you know, fairly lucid,” Hood says with a smile. “There is certainly an age cutoff. When my children inform me that I have left the stove on and I burned up three coffee pots, probably it is time to quit here.”
Fortunately, that has not happened yet for Hood or Singer.
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Garfield County libraries will host James Edward Mills in its second event of the spring lecture series for a virtual conversation about changing the faces of the outdoors.