A Day at the Polls

Election judges in the small town
of Harrisburg plan early start
for busy Election Day
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:01 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Counting ballots hours before voting even started: That’s what got four longtime election judges up at 3 this morning.

Retirees Isabell Cochran, Marjorie Koenig, Bette Faddis and Norma Falloon headed to the Harrisburg Christian Church to begin checking the number of ballots against the voter rolls before voters started arriving at 6 a.m. They are four of more than 700 judges in Boone County this year and have among them more than 80 years of experience working at the polls.

Their polling place, one of 99 in Boone County this year, serves 1,100 registered voters. The judges spent this morning making sure they have a ballot for every voter. Koenig said that in the last election they had 500 to 600 voters, but this time they’ve been told to expect a record turnout.


From left: Election judges Isabell Cochran, Marjorie Koenig and Bette Faddis run through a checklist of election preparations.

The women, who said they’re as well trained as any election workers in the country, spent a total of five hours in two training sessions led by traveling election professionals. The sessions included presentations, videos and even role-playing exercises with mock elections featuring “difficult voters.”

Koenig said it can be hard to find people willing to give up time from their busy schedules to earn $8.22 an hour.

“Once you’ve worked an election, they want you every time,” she said, adding that a good number of election judges are seniors.


Election judge Isabell Cochran of Harrisburg waits for a fellow judge to pick up ballots Monday at the Boone County Government Center in Columbia.

Each precinct must have a supervisor from each of the two major parties. Cochran, the Democratic supervisor and Koenig, the Republican, are the veterans of the group. The two have been judges for more than 30 years.

At the end of today’s election, Cochran and Koenig will take the ballots out of ballot boxes, make sure the ballot count matches the voter count and place the ballots in a sealed bag to deliver to the county clerk’s office.

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