I have been a voter for more than 45 years, and this year for the first time I had an official role in the election process. I worked in the Jackson County Board of Elections office for several days prior to the election, and I worked at the Cullowhee Recreation Center on the day of the election.
It was an eye-opening experience. I learned that there is more that goes into our voting process than I ever imagined. It all starts with steps to make sure no one can tamper with the votes. Before setting up voting machines at the precinct voting sites, we spent several days getting the voting machines ready. They were tested for accuracy as we ran test ballots to make sure the votes were counted correctly. After testing them we sealed the machines with numbered zip ties to secure the paper ballots and flash drives. All of this was done under the direction of the professional staff at the Board of Elections and with members of both political parties present and working together.
On the day of the election, we kept a running number of ballots that were handed to the voters, and the vote counting machine kept a running number of ballots that had been read and counted. We checked periodically throughout the day and at the end of the day to make sure the number of voters and votes matched. They did.
We also knew the exact number of ballots that had been sent to our precinct site. The number of ballots we had at the start of the day needed to match the sum of the number of ballots cast and the number of unused ballots at the end of the day. They did. All the paper ballots are now securely stored at the Election Board office.
I was impressed with the professionalism of Jackson County Board of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl and her staff. I was equally impressed with Roy Osborne, who directed the poll workers at the Cullowhee precinct voting site. And I was inspired by the work that was done by your fellow citizens and neighbors from both political parties who worked at the Cullowhee Recreation Center, some for more than 15 hours on Election Day, to make sure that the elections were done correctly. I witnessed voting going smoothly, and I was left with the complete certainty that the election process was fair and the results were accurate.
The accusation that this last election was fraudulent is offensive to me. Those unfounded claims overlook the tremendous amount of effort that goes into making sure that the voting process is unbiased. Those allegations also disparage the character of the people who were involved in making sure the elections were run fairly. The people I worked with did a wonderful job of making sure the vote count was accurate.
Many of the candidates for whom I voted lost. And while I am disappointed that they lost, I am satisfied that the candidates who won did so fair and square.
Our election process is the foundation of our democracy. I will support the leaders we have elected, even the ones I didn’t vote for, and hope and pray that they will work together for the betterment of our nation.
David Claxton lives in Cullowhee and is a professor emeritus in Health and Physical Education at Western Carolina University.