By Connor Muldowney
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
INGHAM COUNTY -– It takes patience and keen understanding to be the Ingham County elections coordinator in a week like this.
Janie Lee has held this position since 2010 and, with the help of Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton, she has worked to have a smooth process for the Michigan presidential primary on Feb. 28.
“My job consists of generating a precinct chart with all races and the 123, give or take a few, precincts involved in the election, proofing ballots, ordering ballots, ordering supplies, testing the program and ballots on election the equipment, and training precinct workers,” Lee said.
Bryanton acts as the chief election official in the county and helps ensure that the process runs efficiently.
“Janie does the day-to-day function of overseeing the election process,” Bryanton said. “I am responsible for the supervision of Janie’s activities as well as oversight over them.”
For the primary, Lee has put in countless hours for one big day on the election calendar. One late county can hold up the statewide results in what is expected to be a close race. No one wants to be last.
She says that her biggest responsibilities as election coordinator are proofing ballots and training election inspectors. She says that the election inspectors are on the front line of the election and get all the questions on Election Day.
Katelyn Freeborn, a 20-year-old junior at Michigan State University, knows quite well the stress that election officials face.
“I have had family members that have been election inspectors and I know the work that goes into making the election process run strongly,” said Freeborn. “I can’t imagine the stress that the committee must endure during this process, especially with an election approaching with such magnitude as the presidential primary. It would be a shame if all of their hard work went unnoticed.”
Although the primary is the next event on Lee’s calendar, she knows there will be more work after that. Lee will have to prepare for the August county elections, which she says are more stressful than the primary.
“Ballot proofing is even a greater importance because there are so many extra names and ballot styles to be proofed,” said Lee.
Although she still has about five months to prepare for the county elections, Lee says she is wasting no time in organizing ballots.
“I would say my days leading up to the election are pretty normal,” Lee said. “My hectic days are the 3-4 months before the election actually takes place.”
Freeborn understands the workload and says she won’t take for granted the work that people put into elections.
“It is my duty as a student and a citizen to vote,” said Freeborn. “It’s the election committee’s job to put together the election for us, but it’s our duty to vote and show the election committee that we appreciate the work they do.”