Counting down to Election Day, and counting the supplies

Counting Election Day suppliesEver go to your polling place on Election Day and notice how well-supplied it is with all those little things? Probably not. You go in, you vote, and you get on with your day. But think about it.

Counting out Election Day supplies

A poll worker uses an indelible pencil to mark your name off the voter roster. Provisional ballot envelopes are at the ready. Vote! signs are tacked up on the walls outside. All those supplies to make a polling place a polling place – down to the push pins – have to come from somewhere, right?

Counting Election Day suppliesWell, they hail from within some 30,000 square feet of warehouse space at Tower Road. There are shelves upon shelves and boxes upon boxes of pens, indelible pencils, highlighters, flags, paper clips, doorstops, paper ballot boxes, voting signs and even push pins in corks. 

“It’s kind of trivial. You wouldn’t think of a cork with tacks in it,” said Howard Stovall, who oversees polling place supply distribution. “But when the poll workers are there, what do they do with this material that’s required to be displayed?”

They need tacks. And it’s Stovall’s job to make sure they have them.

He’s been working with a team of extra help folks at Elections since the end of August to ensure that 400 polling places will be well supplied on Election Day with everything else besides eSlates and ballots. Every pen must be accounted for, and every sign and placard distributed in English, Spanish and Chinese.

After they’re all counted out, supplies will be packed into a red suitcase of sorts for each polling place. (They’re like suitcases, except collapsible. And they have the county logo. And a polling place number with a bar code.) Some will be loaded up into vans for Election Day delivery to polling places, and others will be picked up by poll workers the Saturday preceding Election Day.

Red suitcases in Elections warehouse

It’s a lot of stuff to make for a smooth day at the polls. Not something you normally think about. Stovall, who is also a poll worker in Belmont, is pretty certain the public doesn’t realize all that goes into making sure 400 polling places are supplied on Election Day.

“They just come in and vote,” he said.

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