2021 Elections

Polling Manager Celebrates 20th Year Working Election Day

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Democracy in Action's Blair Seaman speaks to the Poll Manager at the At the Armond Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park .

At the Armond Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park, election day is a family affair. People of all ages came out, kids and dogs in tow. The happy atmosphere continued inside as today marks poll manager Tom Burgess’ 20th time working election day. Even though he was working a 15 hour day, Burgess greeted everyone with a smile on his face and an American flag-striped tie. He says he is passionate to vote local, because of the impact it can have.

Tom Burgess: “The part of government that is most responsive to the voters is the part of government that is closest to where you live. I mean that affects everyday as opposed to what they decide in Washington affects the whole country. This affects where you live.”

But what has changed in the past 20 years of Syracuse voting? According to Burgess, the rise in early voting has increased poll workers concerns about fraud. The other big change has been the structure of the booths themselves. Burgess says elderly voters have complained that their voting experience now feels less private. Burgess emphasizes the importance of voting as he says it is the only way to have a say in voting.

Tom Burgess: “Really you have no right to complain in a democratic republic if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you’re leaving that decision to others.”

This polling site will stay open for voters to cast their ballots until 9pm tonight. For Democracy in Action, I’m Blair Seaman.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (DiA) –  At the Armond Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park, election day was a family affair. People of all ages came out, kids and dogs in tow. 

The happy atmosphere continued inside as today marks poll manager Tom Burgess’ 20th time working election day. Even though he was working a 15 hour day, Burgess greeted everyone with a smile on his face and an American flag-striped tie. He says he is passionate about voting in local elections, because of the impact it can have.

“The part of government that is most responsive to the voters is the part of government that is closest to where you live. I mean that affects everyday as opposed to what they decide in Washington affects the whole country. This affects where you live,” Burgess said.

Burgess’ thoughts were echoed by other members of the community. One voter, who requested to remain anonymous, said that she wouldn’t miss this day for anything. 

But what has changed in the past 20 years of Syracuse voting? The rise in early voting has increased poll workers’ concerns about fraud, according to Burgess. He’s concerned about a ballot amendment that would make it easier to vote by absentee ballot.

“If this amendment passes, anybody can get an absentee ballot. This would change everything,” Burgess said. 

The other big change has been the structure of the booths themselves. Elderly voters have complained that their voting experience now feels less private. 

“The big complaint we get is that it doesn’t feel as private … They feel exposed,” Burgess said.

Every year, Burgess has attended three training sessions in order to learn how to run everything involved in the polls, from opening them up at 5 in the morning all the way to wrapping up until 10 p.m. Burgess emphasizes the importance of voting as he says it is the only way to have a say in how government works.

“It sounds like a cliche, but there’s truth to it,” Burgess said. “You really have no right to complain in a democratic republic if you don’t exercise your right to vote, you’re leaving that decision to others … I exercise my right.”

This polling site will stay open for voters to cast their ballots until 9 tonight.

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