My experience as an election official
By Lisa Seppala, MBA, BComm, ACC, PHS (Adv Cert)
For me, engaging in life means following my curiosity, even if it doesn’t necessarily align with my life and career goals. New experiences feed my creativity, enhancing other aspects of my life and work. I’m sure you can relate.
With this mindset, for the first time in my life, I had the chance to work in a municipal election as an election official. I’ve always been curious about what it takes to run an election behind the scenes, but until this year, I’d never had the opportunity to participate.
My role required me to learn how to perform each public-facing role within the voting location, so I learned much about the process. Here are my key takeaways from the experience.
About municipal elections in general
- Our municipal government significantly impacts many aspects of our daily lives, including community services, schools, environmental impacts, public health, public safety, leisure, culture, and living standards. The elected positions of mayor, councillors, and school trustees set the tone and direction.
- In Canada and in BC, where I’m located, municipal elections have the smallest voter participation compared to provincial and federal elections – quite possibly because voters may not understand the roles of the different levels of government.
- In BC, the Election Act provides strict direction and requirements for the election process, including what is required to serve as an election official.
About my experience working in the election
- The behind-the-scenes process of managing an election is complex, multi-faceted, and fast-paced – ideal for someone who likes a challenge. Planning in incredible detail is required for an election to run smoothly.
- I was honoured to be selected as part of the team to help facilitate this central component of democracy. And, even more honoured to witness people from all walks of life as they exercised their right to vote – some with small children in tow, showing them what it’s all about.
- I met diverse and interesting people, both my coworkers and the voters who showed up to vote.
Will I do it again? Absolutely. It was a wonderful experience, and I recommend it to anyone who meets the requirements outlined in the Election Act and likes working with a team and the public. If you are interested in public service and curious about the process, watch for opportunity postings on your city’s website and apply. You won’t regret it. And remember that every vote counts, so get out and exercise your right to vote in every election.