Officers of election pull off 14-hour shifts on Super Tuesday

Published: Mar. 3, 2020 at 8:46 PM EST
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Polling officials in Radford decided to clock in 14-hour days Tuesday to pull off a smooth election.

In the still-new fourth precinct in the city, the New River Precinct, officers of election at Grove United Methodist Church took turns throughout the day at different roles from checking I.D.s to handing out ‘I Voted’ stickers.

The New River Precinct was added for the November 2019 election after the number of registered voters in the East Precinct exploded to 5,500 registered voters, outnumbering the West End and Central precincts.

Lucinda McDermott Piro decided to test her skills as an officer of election for the first time. She said the job really gives you a glimpse into how important voting is for folks of all ages, from the young kids who tag along with mom and dad and get an ‘I Voted’ sticker, to people they helped to take ballots out to their cars if they couldn’t make it inside.

McDermott, along with four others, pulled off 14-hour shifts starting at 5 a.m. to set up and get the polling place ready to go.

“I was a little intimidated and scared at first because, do I know what I’m doing? But it’s pretty straight-forward and you get to see all aspects of the process,” McDermott Piro said.

Tracy Howard, Radford’s Director of Elections, said Tuesday’s turnout was pretty typical for a primary. They were estimating about 10 percent of voters to cast ballots, but that was surpassed by 3 p.m.

Howard said Radford had only 3 precincts for 45 years.

“We just don’t grow like the Northern Virginia areas,” Howard said. “Even though [students] moving away maintained their registration went somewhere else, our precinct just grew beyond the bounds of what was practicable.”

Although they have no way of determining just how many college students showed up in the newer precinct, they do plan to total the number of people in the 18-25 demographic to prepare for the presidential election in November.

Howard said Virginia’s voter registration list has increased 72 percent since 1996 when the National Voter Registration Act was passed. He said the commonwealth’s overall population increase is only eight percent.

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