If Tuesday's election goes off without a hitch, you have these people to thank.

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

It's a long day for York County Elections worker Casey Brady. 

With the 2021 general election drawing closer, he spent a long day last week training poll workers for Nov. 2. These folks, ordinary citizens, are the ones ensuring Tuesday's election goes off without a hitch.

"It's very helpful for poll workers to come out and get some hands-on" training, Brady said between sessions last Thursday. "Especially new people, because we talk about a lot of higher level concepts."

Brady trains poll workers on important aspects of checking in voters, how to operate the main voting machine, how to ensure votes are given to the Department of Elections safely and how to operate the machine for those with disabilities.

Casey Brady, York County voting technology coordinator, left, explains a results report to poll workers, from left, Virginia Shultz of York Township, and Levi Link and his father Tim, both of Dover Township, during training at York County at Pleasant Valley Road Thursday, October 28, 2021. The Department of State encourages poll worker training prior to each election. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Bill Kalina photo

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The machines used, Brady said, are fairly intuitive after operating them a couple of times.

"Once you've done it once or twice, you pretty much know what you're doing," he said. 

Deputy Director of Elections Annie Mendoza said many of their poll workers have been working for the county for many years. With the COVID-19 pandemic last year, however, some poll workers either stepped back or retired.

"We're definitely trying to reach out to some of the younger population, millennials, people my age to work the polls," she said.

Poll workers run the gamut, from old hands to new faces.

Tim and Levi Link, both first-time poll workers in Dover, say they're training because they wanted to be involved in the election.

"Everything that's going on, talking about politics, just wanted to see how it all worked and contribute," Levi said. 

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It'll be Gary Brandon's third election working at the polls in Hopewell Township. He said he's working to learn more because his precinct didn't have a judge of elections during the last election.

"I figured the more I know about it," Brandon said. "If somebody doesn't show up, I can at least step in and keep things going."

After retiring, Brandon said, he wanted to give back to the community.

"The people running the polls are just your community people that you live with," he said. "It's what we should do as a community and as a citizen." 

Poll worker Stephanie Junke of Hanover asks a question during poll worker election training at the York County offices at Pleasant Valley Road Thursday, October 28, 2021. The Pennsylvania Department of State encourages poll worker training before every election. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Bill Kalina photo

Poll workers and judges of elections come in early and leave late, Brandon said. They have to help voters with their questions and issues, such as why a ballot may not be accepted by the machine. 

"We have to not be involved, but be there to support them if things come up, and they always do," Brandon said. "I find that the more poll workers you have, the more time you have to explain to the voters how to do it correctly." 

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Judge of elections Mickey Shirey said this will be her fourth election cycle at Lower Windsor Township 1.

"My location needed help, and they called me and I said, 'I'll give it a shot,'" she said. "It feels like you're helping, and the group of ladies I work with is just amazing. It's just rewarding." 

Ahead of the Nov. 2, 2021 Pennsylvania election, use this guide to find key dates, polling locations, and more.

During her time working at the polls, Shirey has had to adjust to changes like the increased prominence of mail-in ballots and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They gave a lot of guidance in how to handle these things, and with COVID-19 the way we have these rooms set up now, the traffic flow is so much better," she said. "It works out really well." 

Shirey said she thinks there will be a good turnout this year. In the previous election, 35% of voters in her area voted. 

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Casey Brady, York County voting technology coordinator, holds a printout of a results report while conducting poll worker training at the York County offices at the York County offices at Pleasant Valley Road Thursday, October 28, 2021. The Department of State encourages poll worker training prior to each election. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Bill Kalina photo

Learning styles can vary across poll workers, Mendoza said: Some prefer email while others prefer phone calls or regular mail. In-person training helps to attract poll workers, though there are also videos and online courses for those who can't make in-person training for any reason.

Due to the pandemic, Mendoza said, the elections office had to reduce the number of people in training sessions at one time and hold more trainings.

Mendoza encouraged anyone who's interested in being a poll worker to reach out to the elections office

 Matt Enright can be reached via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.

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