Election day may be his biggest challenge yet, but newly elected Clerk of Court David Stamey says he’s ready.
“I inherited a well oiled machine,” he said.
Commissioners prepped for Election Day, completing a recertification school in July and last Thursday, focusing on challenges they face during an election.
They’re tested, but it’s still tough. A Monday night meeting updated all Commissioners-in-Charge (each precinct has a chief commissioner) on ballot submissions.
Commissioner-in-Charge Jimmy Gunter said working Election Day is something he’s always enjoyed doing. He’s done this 12 years now, working as Commissioner-in-Charge for 10 of them.
“I like watching the people vote, especially the future voters going into the machine with their parents and grandparents,” he said.
Also, voting machines were delivered Monday to the 50 different precincts. They’ll be picked back up Thursday, which is when another meeting will be held to check the machines and confirm the votes. The following Monday the votes will be certified, which is when it’s safe to say the returns are official.
Stamey said he feels Natchitoches voters will have a lot of influence on the next court of appeals, school bond issue and road tax.
With 300 commissioners working throughout the Clerk of Court Office, the day lasts from 5:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. They are sworn in with an oath for diligence, honesty and fairness. They then gear up the voting machines and open the doors for a daylong voting marathon.
There are also three Secretary of State employees on hand to fix voting machines or correct problems.
Meanwhile, Stamey prepares to answer any calls from the precincts. He visits as many as he can, showing support and making sure there aren’t any problems.
Once voting starts for the day, mail-in ballots are counted in conjunction with the Registrar of Voters and the Board of Election Supervisors.
The first precinct goes up online, then absentee and early voting are reported on the Secretary of State’s website. Soon after Natchitoches precincts start checking in. Commissioners meet with office employees at a separate location, who bring the information in before it gets filtered out to the rest of the parish.
“It’s a day that rocks on for 15 hours,” said Stamey. “The superstars are the commissioners that are there all day long.”
Stamey says their devotion comes from a love of community service and of the Natchitoches community that drives them over anything.
“They love what they’re doing and I’ve come to realize that we wouldn’t have elections without them,” said Stamey. “The fact that they’re willing to do it is amazing.”
And they get to do it all again Dec. 10 with run-offs in the Senate and so many people running in the Congressional race.
While it may be a well-oiled machine, Stamey said it wouldn’t run as smoothly without partnerships with the Natchitoches Parish School District.
“We use so many schools that it would be hard to have a successful election without their support,” said Stamey. “Parish Government is also a huge partner and we have about 8-10 precincts located in church halls. It’s pretty neat to see the community coming together because everyone wants honest and fair elections. It amazes me the amount of teamwork that goes into putting on an election from individuals and entities alike.”