Johnson County election judge Cheryl Patt is one of the various friendly faces who helps Johnson County voters fill out their ballots during election days.
Patt was recently stationed at the Grover Park polling place for the 2020 primary election on Tuesday, March 10.
Patt said she believes she has worked at a polling place during every election except for one since 2008.
She enjoys helping voters of all ages excited to be performing their civic duties.
What would surprise people most to learn about your job?
“Probably that I think almost all the judges really do enjoy doing it. It’s a very long day, but we enjoy it.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“Getting those to realize that we are just following the rules and guidelines when there’s a problem and they aren’t allowed to vote. You hate to see a potential voter disgruntled with the whole system because they think they’ve been done wrong. But we do have rules and they’re not our rules that we make up; they’re the state guidelines.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
“One of the most rewarding things is to see a first-time voter, usually a very young person. They are a little bit intimidated by the system I think. You help them through it and they cast their ballot and they turn around and give you the biggest smile in the world or they thank you and they’re so happy that they voted. And we too are happy that they voted. The other thing is older individuals with such determination and could possibly have challenges in getting there who drop their ballot in and they have a look of, ‘I’ve done my duty.’ Then they stop and say thank you when they realize you’re not doing it for the pay. You can tell the genuineness; they appreciate the jobs we do.”
Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this position or field?
“No, not at all. My 10-year-old self was stuck in front of a TV, this was before we had presidential primaries, and they battled it out on the convention floor for who the candidate was going to be. I would stay up as late as my parents would let me watching all of that. Don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t answer you. I was never interested in running for office or anything, but I guess I saw the value of our system even as a young kid.”
What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?
“Wear comfortable shoes. I get there at 4:30 in the morning and the polls close at 7 p.m., we shut everything down, make sure all of the ballots balance out and everything is secure, so we usually leave at about 7:30 p.m. in the evenings. It’s a very long day. It’d be appreciated to have other workers sign up because we’ve got a presidential election coming up in November and I think they really do need workers. You don’t do it for the money, you do it because you want to.”