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Campaigners and Clerks Make the Election Come and Go

They are the faces on the campaign trail, at the polls and in the counting room.

 

They are the glue that make candidate messages stick and votes count.

They are campaigners on the ground and clerks who manage the polling places.

They are essential pieces in the grand political drama and American spectacle that unfolds every four years — the presidential election.

Here is a glimpse into the work of a Swampscott Republican campaigning at home, a Swampscott Democrat campaigning on the road and the Swampscott team that organizes the voting.

In Swampscott

Republican Tim Keeter was at his post early Tuesday, almost first light in front of First Church Congregational in Swampscott at Monument Avenue. 

He toted a two-tiered message on a stick  — a Scott Brown sign on top and a Romney and Ryan sign on the bottom — raising it and lowering in a gloved hand as traffic flowed in four directions.

He took it upon himself to stir excitement for GOP candidates, inspired by his adherence to GOP principles.

By late morning he was still pumping away and waving to cars only now he had several fellow GOP sign toters in tow.

Earlier, when he was outflanked by Democratic sign toters, a fellow Republican noticed this. And after Linda Carey cast her ballot in the church she decided to join Keeter in the street campaigning, rallying support for the GOP ticket.

A Swampscotter in New Hampshire

Democrat Margaret Somer spent four days including Election Day in swing-state territory — New Hampshire — and a town, Londonderry, known for its Republican leaning voters.

She stayed with a family who volunteered to house and feed an Obama supporter over those four days.

Margaret has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns since the 1960s, motivated by her belief in Democratic principles.

Each morning on the last four days of the Obama campaign she reported with 50 or 60 other fellow Democrats to another Londonderry home, a campaign station house, to pick up maps and addresses of Obama leaning voters.

She went door-to-door in a town where the houses are far apart, encouraging those who had not registered to vote to do so, and encouraging those leaning toward supporting Obama to vote on Election Day.

Her grassroots campaigning started at 9 or 10 am and didn't end until 7 p.m.

When she was tired and cold and hungry she would return to the station house where a fire roared in the fire place and homemade soup, sandwiches and casseroles were served in the kitchen.

The organizers even packed care packages for the road, apples and crackers and such.

Margaret said Barack Obama supporters had, in the stretch run of the campaign, signed up for 700,000 shifts making phone calls and going door to door to support the president.

In his victory speech the president recognized the dogged work of his supporters on the ground.

At Town Hall and the Polls

Thursday night by 8:45, the last of the bins of cast ballots arrived to Town Hall, delivered by police.

In the counting room — the clerk's office — Town Clerk Susan Duplin typed numbers into her spreadsheet program after Assistant Town Clerk Connie Hayes read voting totals from ribbons of machine tapes. Assisting were members of the Board of Registrars of Voters — Sue Burgess, Paul Debole and Janet Fisher.

For three weeks, the town clerk and her assistant had prepared for the Big Day, staying at Town Hall until 7 p.m. to make sure all their ballots, lists, voting supplies, poll place worker schedules and everything else was in place and prepared for Election Day.

Each polling place would be confronted with it's share of problems on Nov. 6. There were voters who had not activated their voter registrations or who did not know which precinct they were voting in or whether they had registered to vote.

The town clerk had reached out to the public to answer as many of these questions in advance of Election Day but when they arose on Election Day a prootocol was in place for resolving each issue.

More than 80 percent of the town's registered voters voted on Tuesday but waits were minimal and the flow of the Democratic process moved steady from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

By 9:30 p.m., all the votes in all the races had been tallied at Town Hall.

But the Town Clerk and her crew had several more days of work before they could put a period on the presidential election.

The remaining work included reviewing the write-ins and counting the overseas ballots and reviewing voter lists and packing signs, ballot tables and balloting materials away.

Awaiting the next election.

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