County Clerk deserves praise for smooth election day

Thursday, November 13, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:36 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

All hail Queen Wendy!

I am writing this one week after the elections and realize I missed something — that something was out of place. I know it was there in the 2000 and 2004 elections but I just can’t…

Now I remember: We have named our new president without a lawsuit! No hanging chads, few problems at the polling booths and 49 of the 50 states counted and certified on Election Night. Of course the single holdout is Missouri, but with less than 6,000 votes separating the presidential candidates I suspect it will take a while.

We did hear about long lines, up to six hours in some places and weather-related delays – like voters coming in out of the rain in Virginia. It seems that their paper ballots got wet and would not run through the scanners. Here in Missouri, especially in Boone County, there were few, if any, problems, mostly minor at that.  

Most days, sitting in the McDonald’s on Stadium and Worley, there is a group of breakfast buddies, a bit older then myself, discussing the important issues of the day. They never notice me; I usually eat breakfast at home, visit Mickey-D’s maybe once a month and sit in the back. Recently, they were comparing notes about the election, not as voters but as election judges. This morning I introduced myself to Bob and Jerry and joined them in the morning’s conversation.  

We laughed about the "challengers," the outside “watchdogs,” Democrat and Republican, who look over the shoulders of the judges to make sure everything is done on the up and up. Jerry had a law student who was, to be kind, most meticulous, wanting to be everywhere at once, nit-picking.

Both had nothing but praise for our county clerk, Wendy Noren. With the single exception of a missing judge, for them everything went smoothly and with little delay, unlike the news reports which seem to have centered on Virginia.  

Wendy and I go back a few years. I worked as an election judge at the Daniel Boone Regional Library and as an election judge trainer for the county clerk’s office. I was an "adviser" and actor in the secretary of state’s election judge training films. I think I know the system. I know how Wendy runs her ship. Tight.

If you do not know, Wendy is one of the most admired election officials in the country. Her no-nonsense approach to the process is unsurpassed. Bob and Jerry praised her, her staff and the slew of volunteers. They were exceptionally appreciative of the improved communication system this year. Telephones and pagers are the norm. This year both men had laptop computers complete with printers. Send the request, print the response, place it in the voter register and hand the citizen the right ballot. The American election system at its best.

The only thing Bob and Jerry thought could be improved is to change the name of the “challengers” to “observers.” Challenger just sounds too harsh.  

My own pet peeve is the county and the vast majority of its citizens want to keep paper ballots. I have used computerized voting machines in Missouri and Colorado for years. There is a paper trail, you can inspect your vote as it is registered, you can change your vote without going back to an election judge for a new ballot and, for us older folk, the writing is bigger. The actual number of errors with the electronic systems are no more than with paper. I know the problem with change, especially here in the middle of Middle America, but welcome to the 21st century.

If you happen to see Wendy while you are out and about, if you happen to stop in the Boone County Government Center or if you just want to drop a note, thank our Boone County Clerk for doing such a superior job and making Boone County’s election process near flawless.

Thanks Wendy.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at

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John Schultz November 13, 2008 | 11:11 a.m.

I wish to second David's commendation of Wendy's office and the rest of the staff involved in the elections. I attended the testing of the vote tabulation process a week before the election and the sheer task of what they have to accomplish is overwhelming. There were over 90 polling places, with each polling place having one electronic voting machine with its votes, and the optical scanner for the paper ballots with its votes, all of which must be read one at a time back at Election HQ. Ballots rejected by the optical scanner for whatever reason, absentee votes, and provisional ballots also have to be accounted for.

Regarding electronic voting machines, I am in favor of more machines in Boone County, but cost is an issue. At my polling place, there was a line of at least three people for the electronic voting machine. I know I can vote on it pretty quickly as I know how I'm voting on every issue before I go to the polls, but I have to wonder if some people were slowing up the line by not knowing this (or having a pre-marked ballot) while voting. My wife entered the line for the machine about the time I received my paper ballot, and I was done well before she would have been able to vote (she ended up switching to a paper ballot as well).

(Report Comment)
Greg T. Spielberg November 13, 2008 | 3:17 p.m.

Absolutely. Good call, Rosman. Voting at the Lutheran church was so smooth. The volunteers were very friendly and helpful, and some of them outside insisted they watch my bike while I voted.

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