Election Day: It’s business as usual for Greene County election officials despite tensions nationwide
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The day before the election can be a hectic time for those who run the polling places, but at the Greene County Election Center on Monday, there were no signs of tension or concern.
While a line of people waited to go through in-person absentee voting on one side of the building, on the other side Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller and his staff were busy preparing for the significant onslaught on Tuesday, handing out voting equipment to volunteers who were panning out to the other polling places across the county.
And things were going smoothly.
“We pre-test all of our election equipment prior to the election, and we are ready,” Schoeller said. “We have bi-partisan teams that do that.”
The only possible hiccup that Schoeller pointed out for Tuesday’s general election is that some voters may show up not knowing about Missouri’s new law that requires them to show a photo ID before they can cast their ballot. People who don’t have a photo ID will have to vote with a provisional ballot, which takes a few extra steps before it can be counted.
“In the past, you could use your Voter ID card to check in,” Schoeller explained. “But now you have to use either your official Missouri driver’s license or non-driver’s license or your federal passport or military ID.”
Anyone keeping up with election coverage nationwide certainly knows there are many concerns about the security of the election process and the safety of voters and candidates. The Department of Homeland Security has made it known that it is actively looking for threats to election officials and vandalism of ballot boxes. At the same time, the Justice Department announced on Monday that it would monitor election sites in 24 different states around the country to ensure compliance with voting rights laws.
The department will monitor voting sites in 64 jurisdictions across 24 states that, include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
With all that going on, Schoeller admits he’s getting more questions from the public these days.
“Yes, in terms of voter integrity,” he said. “If people choose to only listen to what they’re reading on social media, that’s often the reason why we’re seeing challenges. People are sharing stories that are not accurate or not necessarily even true.”
Schoeller says people are welcome to come to see the process in person.
“Anyone can come and observe the pre-testing of the election equipment,” he pointed out. “They can observe the post-testing where we do the same test after the election. We’ll do a manual count after the election so they can observe how we take that manual count and compare it to the tally from the machine itself to make sure that they match. So those are all things that are open for people to come and witness and observe. All done by bi-partisan teams as well. We welcome people to come and learn about the process because our state constitution really empowers the people to be a part of the accountability and transparency process of our elections. And mistakes are made. People administer elections, and people do make mistakes. But we need to find out if it was a mistake or if it was intent. You’ve got to trust but verify. And even as county clerk, I want people to hold me accountable because I might make a mistake and need to do something better. But I also ask that they be willing to listen and learn.”
While other places around the country are calling law enforcement to polling places to ensure voter safety and compliance, Schoeller says that won’t happen in Greene County.
“This election, we haven’t seen anything that would give us rise to concern,” he said. “But we’re certainly prepared for that.”
And as for the security of the voting machines?
“With the tabulation equipment, there is no modem, and it’s not online,” Schoeller answered. “Everything is off-line. Even when we upload the results on the night of the election, the machine that we upload them to is not online. So we do everything we can to make sure we’re protecting our equipment from being compromised.”
He also said the national turmoil has not resulted in fewer volunteers wanting to work in Greene County.
“We’ve actually seen more people come and want to be a part of the process,” he said. “We even have backup judges ready to go for Tuesday, and that’s a good problem to have.”
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