Record number of citizens vote in Eureka Springs

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

St. Elizabeth Parish Center was filled with voters from morning to night on Tuesday.

Poll captain Albena Link reported helping a record number of citizens vote at the parish center, where she said some people had to wait more than an hour and a half to cast their vote. Luckily, Link said, there weren't very many complaints about the wait.

"We've had very few people that were really unhappy. Our poll workers are a very upbeat group and they try to keep the voters upbeat," Link said. "At one point, we did have about 200 voters in line. We have never had that."

She added, "It's totally different from anything we've ever had before. It's been an amazing turnout, which is thrilling."

Link described her role, saying she helped set up the polling site, kept track of ballots and facilitated the voting. If the poll workers couldn't find a voter's registration, she said, a help desk was set up to figure out if the voter could place a provisional vote.

"The goal is that anybody who walks in here who is a valid voter ... we'll make sure they get to vote," Link said. "We do have a process, so if we run into problems, we can still facilitate it using provisional ballots."

Getting ready for this election, she said, has been more complicated than elections in the past. Link explained that the poll workers had to prepare for a large influx of voters, especially since the voting stations in Carroll County eliminated paper ballots this year. For Link, it wasn't a problem to help voters who weren't used to using voting machines.

"We've run into instances where people have never voted with the machine and they needed additional instructions," she said. "We've had to take more time to explain to the voters how to use the machine, and should they run into a problem, they just flag one of our workers and they will go over and assist them."

Some people didn't like using the voting machines, Link said, and she could understand that.

"People were very upset because they're so attached to their paper ballots. What I've tried to explain to people is it is electronic but even the paper ballots are counted electronically," she said. "So what's the difference between an actual machine and a machine that does counting?"

Link continued, "I personally have been voting on the machines since we've had them. I love them. I don't understand the fear, if you want to call it that, but at the same time I sympathize with people, because when you're not used to something or you don't trust something ... you can't blame them."

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