Election judges aren't getting any younger

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Stephanie Jeffcoat became an election judge because she wanted to meet people and get involved in the democratic process. But for her generation, Jeffcoat is the exception, not the norm.

"I'm definitely one of the younger (judges)," the 31-year-old said.

Moffat County election officials estimate well over half the county's election judges are older than 50.

When those judges retire, the county doesn't have a younger generation of judges to take their place.

"There's no way we could run elections without them," Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod said.

Election judges check identification, make sure voters are at the right precincts and show people how to vote.

Students from Moffat County High School work as student judges, but not many of them continue after graduation.

County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan said the student judges have been fun to have around.

"They're one of our greatest assets because they're so energetic," she said.

Election judges get their start by attending party caucuses in March, but Sullivan said the same people attend the caucuses every year.

"A lot of young people don't get into grass-roots politics," she said.

Jeffcoat, who started work as a judge in 2000, said Moffat County's need for judges isn't the only reason young people should get involved.

"It's really important for people my age to understand what goes on," she said. "There's more to electing a president than just filling in a blank."

The county also needs more Democrats to work as judges, Sullivan said.

Federal law requires counties to do everything they can to have equal representation at the polls, but in GOP-dominated Moffat County, most of the election judges are registered Republicans.

Election judges make $105 for two days of work, but that usually isn't the reason election judges spend the first Tuesday of November at the polls.

Jeffcoat said the money helps, but she likes the atmosphere and likes to meet new people.

"It gives me a chance to meet my neighbors," she said.

Joyce LeBlanc has been an election judge for more than a decade and said the job is especially fun now that most of the polling places are at the Centennial Mall.

"It's fun to see more people," the 76-year-old said.

LeBlanc said she would like to have more young people work with her, but she understands they have a lot going on.

"We try to get people to come out, but everyone is so busy these days," she said.

LeBlanc's coworkers, especially the student judges, have been a pleasure to work with, even though there aren't very many of them.

"They seem to do a very good job," she said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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