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The people behind the polls love being part of the process

The first time Dale Cody applied to be an election judge he did it just to get a paid day off. The Minnesota Department of Transportation employee won't lie. His ambitions were that simple. Eight years later, though, Cody works the polls because he loves being part of the political process.

"I just love to see it in action," said Cody. "It's fun, but it's also a huge responsibility. We want people to leave feeling the process is fair."

Fellow election judge Teresa Johnson feels the same.

"It's just sort of gets in your blood," said Johnson, who has been a judge for more than 10 years.

Cody and Johnson will be two of the 150 election judges who will ensure Rosemount voters have their say in the political process Nov. 2. The city council approved the appointment of the judges at its last meeting.

Election judges staff polling places, administer election procedures, and ensure that the rights of voters are protected on election day, said city clerk Amy Domeier.

All judges are required to have 2 1/2 hours of training in order to serve. To become a judge residents must meet preset criteria including: must be eligible to vote in Minnesota; must be able to read, write and speak English; cannot be a spouse, parent, child or sibling of any election judge serving in the same precinct; and cannot be a spouse, parent child or sibling of any candidate on the ballot.

Domeier said many of Rosemount's election judges have served for many years. Although every year a few new people join the ranks.

Both Cody and Johnson, who are co-captains at different precincts, agreed it's a privilege to be able to serve the public in this capacity.

"I've seen all aspects of being an election judge and it's quite a process," said Johnson.

For many of the election judges Nov. 2 will start at 6 a.m. with setting up equipment and making sure everything is ready for voters. The polls open at 7 and there is a full day of work which includes registering voters, helping people find their way and keeping things organized.

Voters can cast their votes until 8 p.m., and then judges have to count the votes. For most of the judges the day won't end until 11 p.m. or later.

"It gets to be a long day but it's a good day," said Johnson.

Polling locations are staffed based upon the size of the precinct. Some locations have as few as eight election judges and others have as many as 12. Each precinct has two captains that oversee the election judges and all the processes.

No more than half of the election judges in a precinct may be members of the same major political party. All election judges must be affiliated with one of Minnesota's major political parties - Independence, Socialist, Democratic-Farmer-Labor or Republican.

While it's a tedious process Cody said it's also a wonderful thing to be part of.

"It's fun to see the first time voters come in with their parents," said Cody. "I just love watching all the people come in and vote."

With less than a month to go Johnson is getting excited for this year's election and will be interested to see what the results will be.

"I feel like I'm doing something important and I guess I'll probably keep doing it as long as I can."

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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