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Listen: For three decades, this 88-year-old Branford woman has volunteered on Election Day

88-year old Theresa Goss, a poll worker in Branford for three decades.
Lori Mack
Connecticut Public
Theresa Goss, 88, a poll worker in Branford for three decades.

Thousands of people will volunteer to help run this year’s midterm election. Poll workers are on the front lines: checking in voters and ensuring that ballots are cast and counted.

In 2020, COVID concerns led to poll worker shortages everywhere, including Connecticut. This year, in a time of misinformation, election officials have new concerns as they confront possible threats and harassment amid efforts to undermine the democratic process.

Theresa Goss, 88, is a former poll worker in Branford. For three decades, she volunteered on Election Day. It's work done out of a firm belief in democracy and a desire to protect our right to vote.

We spoke with her for this audio postcard.

What did you do?

"When I started, we had those old voting machines with the curtains. I was a head checker at the time. That meant that my list, that I checked people off on, was the main list. That's the list we counted up at the end of the day to see how many people voted and it should come out exactly like your machines. So there's no misunderstanding about what the numbers are."

What was your day like?

"We had to get there by 5, set up, make sure there's pens at every voting booth, pinning up all the posters of how to vote. And then we had to get sworn in. And then the doors open. And usually there's a flurry of people."

Why did you want to be a poll worker?

"I decided to be a poll worker because way back when, my daughter, who is now in her 60s, went to school full time, and my husband was involved in politics then, it's what you did because that's what this country is based on."

"Some countries don't get that opportunity. Voting is very important. I learned that from my father, who was a very proud voter. He would never tell anybody who he voted for. That's the way it was then that was something that was such a privilege, and it should be to all of us. But he really was a catalyst for me to understand how big it was to have that privilege. If you want to change things, then you have to vote or you can't complain."

Lori Connecticut Public's Morning Edition host.