Every vote counts to Tammy Caldwell

As Carson City's chief deputy for elections, Tammy Caldwell wants voters to know each vote does count - including the primary election, which can decide a race.

With more than 24,000 potential voters in Carson City/County, Caldwell has many areas to cover in keeping track of voters and candidates for each election - primary and general.

"What is most important about voting in Carson City, is it only takes 50 percent plus one vote, for a candidate to win," said Caldwell.

"Most people think it's not important for them to vote in a primary. They say 'Oh, I'll wait until the general election to vote.' Well, guess what? If you don't help that candidate win the primary, if they have opposition, they won't be in the general election. They don't think about that."

The voter registration office, located within the new safety complex at 885 E. Musser St., is responsible for registering voters, listing all voters in the poll books, both active and inactive voters, filing candidates for various offices, setting up the polling locations, coordinating volunteers, programming the computers to tabulate voter's ballots, and much more.

"The job is not real tedious and I can't take credit for everything, Kay (Bunch) and Sue (Merriwether) are great helps. Everybody works so hard. They each have their own talents in doing their specific jobs."

Caldwell has worked in the office of voter registration for nine years, five years as chief deputy-elections. She and her staff take great pride that on election day, Carson City is regularly among the first counties to tabulate votes in full, 100 percent, to the Secretary of State's Office.

"After a voter goes to their polling place and votes, the card is placed in a locked box. That box is then transported by a law enforcement officer, in their vehicle, to the registrar's office. The box can only be opened by the Duplicating Board.

"The voting cards are then entered into a ballot tabulation machine and counted. If there is a problem, and fortunately we haven't ever had one, the ballots can be checked by the five-member board.

"Just so they know, the voter's vote is secure. There is no way of knowing who voted for whom, so they can rest easy. There are no identifying marks or numbers on the voter's card."

Caldwell's office also is responsible for mailing jury-duty questionnaires. They are selected by random from a combination of voter registrations and Department of Motor Vehicle records. Six-thousand forms are mailed each year, between primary and general elections.

"We have deadlines. And they have to be met before we go to the polls. If they're not, we're in violation of federal law. We try to make the whole voting process as easy as possible for voters. We are here to help them."

Caldwell noted more people register before general elections than the primary. The registration office is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each of the three days prior to the close of voter registration. For the primary it is Aug. 5; and for the general election, Oct. 7.

Voters can register through the voter office, or, forms are available at the DMV, Welfare office, Carson City Library and Sierra Pacific Power Co. Early voting begins Aug. 19, for two weeks. Those ballots are not counted until the day of the general election.

Volunteers are always welcome also. You must be a resident of Carson City to help but expect long hours. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., volunteers do get breaks within those hours and are paid $80 for the day. Those interested may call Bunch or Merriwether at 887-2087.

Merriwether, Bunch, Caldwell and Alan Glover, Carson City clerk-recorder, each work one of Carson City's four polling locations on election day.

"We work as a team," said Caldwell. "We have challenges every day. Everybody works hard to get the job done."


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