Detroit seasoned election inspector says voters are ‘grateful’ that she and others are there.
DETROIT—Patricia Batey understands the importance of being able to participate and extoll democratic virtues.
Batey, of Birmingham, has worked the past six elections in Detroit as an electronic pollbook inspector. Previously, she worked in Oakland County but found the need was greater in Detroit.
This November, she will work a location at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Livernois Avenue. There are four precincts under that one location’s umbrella. She was the most senior worker.
The city of Detroit has done a good job of recruiting poll workers, she said.
“People have this pent-up desire to vote, so they will wait,” Batey said. “They’re generally gracious and grateful that we’re there.”
An Ample Amount of Safety Protocols in Place
The August election was mired with questions about personal protective equipment and returned absentee ballots.
Batey called the PPE available at her location “fabulous.” It consisted of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks and face shields.
The turnout at her location for the August election was less than 1,000 voters.
She was one of around 13 or 14 election workers there, which comes to under four workers per precinct. Two 16-year-olds, one from Detroit and one from Dearborn, were among them.
“I probably felt safer on Election Day than I do at my local grocery store,” Batey said. “(The location was) very short-staffed, which allowed us plenty of room to social distance.”
Concerns About Voter Intimidation at Polling Places
On Oct. 6 Batey attended an approximate two-and-a-half hour training session for electronic poll inspectors in anticipation of the election, where she was given instruction on computer setup and offered several scenarios of voter transactions—such as what to do when confronted with spoiled ballots or challenged ballots.
Following the August election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson teamed up with Detroit and Wayne County officials to train additional election workers. That included opening an additional 14 satellite clerk offices, as well as recruiting and training at least 6,000 election workers.
Batey said Detroit normally has around 4,200 workers for normal elections. She feels at ease with the safe and secure environment, the voting machinery, and the workers beside her.
But she does not feel unease about “aggressive challengers” who she said may be politically motivated due to particular campaigns.
“My greatest concern are things like Don (Trump), Jr’s robocalls trying to incite people to form an ‘army’ to go and monitor all the polls,” she said. “He uses terms, like violent-type terms, and that’s the concern.”
On Oct. 1 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed charges against two GOP out-of-state operatives who allegedly orchestrated robocalls to suppress the vote in the Detroit area this November.
An Ushering in of a New Generation
Batey used to live abroad, where she realized that Americans have a unique civic freedom not embraced by all other countries and governments. She said “it was very difficult” and that she “felt shut out” in those days.
Her mother was a poll worker for about 30 years. Now, with numerous seniors deciding to forego this year’s elections due to COVID-19, Batey sees the conglomeration of eligible-aged youth voters and election workers as a positive.
“It’s a ripe opportunity and it would not have happened otherwise,” she said. “It would be older people continuing to do it.”