- Denise LeGree is a 58-year-old election worker based in Gwinnett County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Votes in the state are still counted.
- After serving as an election observer during the 2008 election, LeGree decided to conduct the polls in 2020 and devoted her time to setting up voting booths and scanning ID cards on election day.
- She says the job exposed the complicated voting process, a system she believes has often left BIPOC voters behind.
- “The majority of the people who live in Gwinnett County are either immigrant, Hispanic, or black,” LeGree told Business Insider. “And the government doesn’t want these people to come out and express their frustration by voting.”
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Although I am an insurance broker by profession, I first took part in the elections in 2008 as a voluntary election observer for President Barack Obama. I’ve always voted since I was 18 years old, but like most people, I didn’t really understand the voting process. When Obama ran, I was really interested in learning more about how the votes were tabulated.
I was so nervous about this year’s election that I decided to become an election worker – which is a bit more involved than just being an election observer. I was required to take online training courses with the county, provide documentation showing I was a legal citizen of the United States, and complete in-person training. Then the night before the election you need to go to the district you were assigned to and set up all voting machines under Georgian law.
Before I left home on election day, I woke up in the morning, packed lunch, snacks, and water because I wasn’t allowed to leave the premises until the vote was closed.
We had to be there the day before to set everything up – all the machines and documents on the wall. We had to be there at 5:30 a.m. on election day. I was the person who scanned driver’s licenses and put voter cards to vote.
With Georgia being so aggressive with early voting for the first time and with so many people voting – I think the number was over 4 million – the actual election day was very slow. We had 40 to 50 people in line when we opened punctually at 7am. People came in during the day, but it was never in line; I heard it was like this all over Georgia.
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Our governor did not issue a mask mandate.
Everyone who came into the station had to wear a mask all day. If you didn’t have a mask we had some that people could take with them. Our district went so far as to use disposable pens. So when you cast your ballot, you can just touch the screen and throw it away. We went through regularly and wiped the machines down after people used them.
At the end of the day, all votes had to be tabulated.
The machine spits out this long side. As soon as this happens, our election supervisor must send these ballots back to the electoral committee. Each election supervisor has to pass everything on to the district and forward these sums to the election committee. Everyone goes at different times. The polls closed at 7 p.m. We were able to leave at 8 p.m.
When I look at it from that side, I understand the states that are still counting ballots and why they are still counting them. It’s amazing how it works.
We have had a lot of first-time elected people.
Some people brought their children with them. Everyone would stand up and applaud for them. We had a couple of people who were in the wrong district.
A man came in who had just pulled his wisdom teeth with his mask. Another man was 21 or 22 years old – he came in on Monday thinking it was the last day of the early voting but we had to tell him to come back to vote in person as the early voting closed last Friday was. He was so upset that he got it wrong. He lived outside of Snellville for nearly 45 minutes. We thought: “He won’t come in tomorrow”, but lo and behold, he came back.
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But the process is not fair.
I am an African American. The government made it so difficult for us to vote from the start. America always claims to be the home of the free and brave, but that’s not even true because if so, why is it so difficult for people to choose?
Historically, in the county I live in, presidential elections typically have three places open to early voting. That year they had nine which was unknown. It was so difficult in the past. Ordinarily one would have to go to the electoral board or travel far to vote, even though Gwinnett is one of the largest counties.
The majority of the people who live in Gwinnett County are either immigrant, Hispanic, or Black. And the government doesn’t want these people to come out and express their frustration by voting. It’s so frustrating. This is 2020 and we are still grappling with the problems my ancestors and parents had in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
It was a good day by the time I got home and saw what was going on.
To be honest, I’m a Democrat and I was so confident that Biden would just be blown away by this. So during the day I was perfectly fine. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t any of it.
After working all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to watch the return. But when the results came out, my stomach just sank. All the things that have happened in the past four years – it was like people weren’t paying attention.
I got home at 8:30 p.m. and stayed up until 4 a.m. I look at this stuff, I count. I felt like I was vomiting.
After LeGree observed the results, he traced a piece of paper.
Since I got up again this morning, I’ve been paying attention again. My stomach finally calmed down, I finally had something to eat, and I had a cup of coffee thinking I was going to lose it.
The last time Hillary Clinton lost, I was so confident that she would win. The next day I stayed in bed and cried all day. But I’m not crying today because we’re going to get this out, I feel it. I feel it.