There is an operose process that takes place behind the scene at a polling station. A precinct is managed and various problems are solved. Election Officers set up voting equipment and prepare the polling place for voting, they process voters by checking names on list of registered voters, admit voters to voting machines, respond to challengers challenging an elector, tally results, secure voting and close the polling place.
One of these problem solvers is Abdul 'Rashid' Abdullah, 40, of Herndon, VA. His day job is in the Information Technology field, a Muslim Scout Leader and an Assistant Chief Election Officer. A firm sense of pride and duty has kept him involved in the election process since May 2008.
A busy man, even this interview was given while driving back from work and before a dinner date with his wife, he doesn't let life come between his civic duty.
With people with this level of expertise in the Muslim community, masajid and Islamic Centers should use their knowledge in insuring their own election process is efficient and transparent.
He has dealt with plenty of belligerent voters. "Ill-prepared, disappointed when you tell them that they cannot vote or are ineligible to vote in a certain precinct. It's the only once in four year voters that register at the last minute that usually get emotional, I can tell from the tone, language, body language that some come is close to being violent," he said.
On the flip side, he says that it is great to see someone who just turned 18 immediately exercise their right to vote "I have seen people who haven't voted in the past 20 years suddenly wake up and vote, its super to see people who can barely speak English try to go and vote because they cherish the right that they have while others don't see the beauty of the gift," he says emphatically.
In the state of Virginia, federal offices are elected in even-numbered years, and statewide offices are elected in odd-numbered years. County Board and School Board members serve four-year, rotating terms, so at least one member is elected to each position each November. The Constitutional offices are elected every four years in odd-numbered years, except for the Clerk of the Court, who serves an eight-year term.
"There are several elections that are going to take place state board, special elections, Republican primary, even if you are a democrat you can vote in the Republican primary in Virginia," Abdullah reminds our readers, "go out and vote in every single election the little ones are just as important as the big ones, who is your sheriff is just as important as who our president is."
Lessons and Observations from an Assistant Chief Election Officer to avoid Future Delays and Problems of a Virginia Voter.
1. If you move, contact the Election Office in your County as soon as possible to make sure they have your new address. It doesn’t matter if you move across the street. It could mean a change of precincts. For example, Herndon has two different Congressional Districts in it. The lines are not drawn by the same borders. you and I think they should be.
2. Check to make sure your Voter Registration is in good standing. Go to http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/ and query about yourself to make sure you are in good standing. If you have any doubts or questions, contact your County Elections Office.
3. If you weren’t able to vote but you were asked to complete a Voter Registration form then wait 30 days and check with the election office to make sure you are good. Don’t wait 4 years and then check the day before the elections. It’s too late.
4.If your name is misspelt or your address is incorrect, fix it. With the diversity of names in our community, it is really easy for issues to come up with spelling of names. The good folks at the elections office do their best but mistakes and oversights happen. You know your name and you know how its spelt. Make sure everyone else does too. Print legibly.
5. Look at sample ballots online and research the issues and candidates ahead of time. Again, you can get that information from the County and State Election Web Sites. Different parties will thrust their sample ballots into your hands as you walk into the polls, but just because you might tend to vote for a certain party, doesn’t mean you agree on all the same things. Go into the polls with your own sample ballot. Be an educated voter. It will ensure you take your elected officials to task if they don’t fulfill their duties and it will also ensure you aren’t grumbling out of ignorance.
6. Don't use the DMV to register to vote. It works maybe 25 percent of the time. Third party voter drives are also nice, but if you don't get a voter card one month before elections, you need to verify you are registered. Make sure you contact your local County Election Office directly instead.