Because I like to observe and learn the truth for myself, I recently signed up for Voter Training in Collier County. There were pleas for more volunteers because of the COVID-19 issues, and I felt a patriotic duty to help where I could.
The first training to learn the roles of a deputy, poll watcher, clerk, assistant clerk or inspector involved several hours at the Elections Office on Enterprise Avenue. The office is well-equipped with safety precautions and we had to wear masks to attend. There was sanitizer easily available and after completing the sign-in sheet, we were advised to keep the pen we used—smart!
There was a lengthy PowerPoint presentation with discussion and questions from the participants. The presenter was very knowledgeable and helped us “trouble-shoot” things that might come up. The process of setting up the machines, voting areas, registration is very detailed and precise, and frankly, allayed my questions concerning protocols, standardization of processes, and the level of training involved in, not only working at the polling site, but being aware of the laws and understanding that they must be followed. Training is also available in every county in Florida, and is based on the Florida election law.
If you’ve met Supervisor of Elections, Jennifer J. Edwards, you are well aware of her integrity and commitment to conducting error-free elections. She states, “The Collier County Supervisor of Elections office is responsible for conducting error-free elections in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”
Further, there is an expectation from the Elections office of the trainees. “The Elections Office depends on the poll workers to ensure the elections in our county live up to that pledge. The time and effort you devote to your training is reflected in courteous and efficient service to the public.” I have to say in all the years I’ve voted in Collier County—wow, 31 years—those trained about the voting process have always modeled civility and courteous and efficient service, as expected.
Back to my first training session. Step by step, the process was reviewed with strategic questioning in between to enable us to really think about situations. What if you’re missing something? Like sanitizer or the posters to delineate where any campaigning needs to stay from the polling place—no closer than 150 feet. Well, there’s a number to call and IF anything is missing, which I highly doubt because the trainers and trained workers are so highly efficient and organized.
Well, fast-forward a month and the Elections office needed more volunteers to participate outside for the Curbside Ballot Drop-Off Locations from October 19 – 31 from 9 AM to 6 PM. This is a bit different from Early Voting, where you can go inside and cast your ballot. As you probably know, F.S. 101.69 allows voters who have received their Vote by Mail ballot are able to personally drop off their ballot at any early voting site. This is the first year that Florida has had official ballot boxes outside for curbside drop-off, easily accessible by car or parking and walking up to the poll workers and ballot box. Staying in your air-conditioned vehicle is certainly a great option, however.
So, I participated in additional training to be able to help at the Curbside Ballot Drop-Off locations. This one was shorter, but just as detailed and efficient, same safety procedures and additionally, we were photographed for our official badge to wear when we are working the Ballot Drop-Off.
Because the drop-off locations are outside, there were different protocols to follow. Brace yourself! I had to learn how to set up a tent and put weights on the “feet” to keep it from blowing away, how to set up portable chairs and a table, how to roll the ballot box outside and to lock the wheels and more. It was actually fun! Still in doubt, of course, is how being in the heat, albeit under the canvas, for nine hours will take its toll. Luckily, there will be two of us and we know where and how to buy deodorant!
Local to this area will be the drop-off site at the Marco Island Library. For those that like to plan ahead, you will drive down S. Heathwood Dr. and either turn onto Mistletoe Ct. Or Andalusia Terrace, both of which are abutting the library property. Both of these driving routes head to the Drop-Off location at the front of the library and will take about the same time after you leave S. Heathwood Dr. depending on how many are in the “car line.” Or if you live close by, you’re welcome to take a stroll over and deliver your ballot in person to the poll workers. Watch for cars!
These two routes were staged to provide choices for drivers and also to enable the driver to be closest to the Ballot Drop-Off worker and able to see the ballot go into the locked Ballot Drop Box without getting out of your car. Once your ballot goes into the Drop Box, it is impossible to get back out so choose wisely. A driver can drop off multiple ballot envelopes if each envelope is signed and sealed.
After all this information underlines the importance of voting, no matter which choice of voting options you use. After professional training, its relevance to error-free elections and the new Ballot Drop-Off box, there should be many more with the confidence to vote in the 2020 election.