Electing One’s Civic Duty

Chris Morehouse serves his country at the polls

Chris Morehouse knows a thing or two about loyalty. He married his high school sweetheart, whom he met in eighth grade, he has served his country both as a Marine reservist and in active duty in the Navy, and today he makes sure that justice is served as a prosecutor in Culpeper County. But his loyalty to his country and community does not end there.

Morehouse is also a Chief Election Officer at the Kettle Run precinct on election day. “At the end of my service in the Navy, my wife began her career as a lawyer in Northern Virginia and I was finishing up an economics degree at George Mason University. At the time I was pursuing a dual major in politics and saw an ad for an internship with the Fairfax City election office. I was hired for the two-month opportunity,” said Morehouse. Since moving to Vint Hill in 2014, he has worked at his local polling center.

In October each year, election day “volunteers” convene to become reacquainted with the polling process and instructed how to use the electronic machines. In the Kettle Run precinct, there is one electronic machine for voters with a vision impairment; otherwise, they rely on paper ballots. Although technically paid, the modest stipend is denied by any state employee.

For Morehouse, election day has become sort of a reunion: “for the most part, this is the only time the polling center volunteers see each other, so it is a great opportunity to catch up.” And they have a lot of time to do that. Volunteers meet at 5 a.m. on election day and polls open at 6 a.m. They remain open until 7:00 p.m. “It’s a long day. Sometimes we have as few as 20 people come through in an hour. We spend a lot of time catching up and eating,” he laughs.

The Kettle Run precinct has between six and eight volunteers. Two check voters in, one manages the line outside the center, one helps guide traffic to the machines, one helps voters turn ballots in and distributes the “I Voted” stickers and one person acts as a floater. “The floater will help with curbside voting for people who did not submit an absentee ballot and whose physical limitations make it difficult for them to enter the polling center.” Curbside voters must have a signed form attesting to their disabilities; it is a felony to vote curbside for people with no physical limitations, just in case anyone considers it as a convenient alternative to walking inside.

Morehouse is proud to exercise his civic duty and wishes more residents would come out and vote every year. “We see the highest voter turnout during presidential elections, but when you think about it, if people want to see a difference in their daily lives, they should vote in the local elections and that’s when the fewest voters turn out,” Morehouse explains. “While every election is important, it’s the local officials that will have greatest impact in your life,” he continues. And if you simply want to get to know your neighbors, this is a great way to do it. “When we first moved to the area in 2014, I worked at the polling center to meet my neighbors, the ones who vote, anyway,” he says

Morehouse admits that finding volunteers is a challenge, “Many of the volunteers are older people who are finding it more and more challenging to man the polling place due to their ailments. It is a challenge to find younger polling center volunteers.” Anyone interested in local politics is encouraged to tell an election officer of their interest when they arrive at their polling center to vote on November 7. Their name will then be added to the list of volunteers for the 2018 election. In the meantime, they can look forward to meeting neighbors that they haven’t yet had an opportunity to become acquainted with.

Remember to Vote on November 7, 2017

The 2017 Gubernatorial Election ballot information includes:

  • Governor for the State of Virginia
  • Lieutenant Governor, State of Virginia
  • Attorney General, State of Virginia
  • Member House of Delegates, 18th District
  • And others

For more information on this year’s election visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/candidate-list/index.html

or can use shortened version: www.elections.virginia.gov

Aimée O'Grady
About Aimée O'Grady 46 Articles
Aimée O’Grady is a freelance writer who enjoys transforming stories told by Fauquier residents into articles for Lifestyle readers. She learns more and more about our rich county with every interview she conducts. She and her husband are happy with their decision to raise their four children in Warrenton.

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