Republican poll worker of 64 years says presidential claims of voter fraud are off-base

President Donald Trump almost certainly has never worked the polls. Dr. Glyde Marsh, who has manned the polls in Franklin County for 64 years, is quite sure of it.

“I'll bet you Trump never worked in any election position,” said Marsh, a Republican who voted for Trump but is irritated at the president's frequent claims of rampant voter fraud.

“I think it's a case of an alibi artist who wants an explanation for his failure to win certain states” and the overall popular vote, Marsh said.

Marsh, 98, began working the polls in 1952, the year he graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in veterinary medicine. This fall, he is running for an eighth four-year term on New Albany City Council.

“In all the years I've worked the polls, I cannot recall anyone trying to cast a fraudulent vote,” Marsh said.

Instances of non-registered individuals trying to vote invariably are the result of “honest errors,” he said. “They move in here from Indiana or something, and they think they can vote here. You get things like that.”

Marsh's views on the integrity of American elections mirror those of nearly everyone with experience in elections administration, including Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Husted's examinations of Ohio's last three statewide elections revealed 126 improperly cast ballots, most the result of honest mistakes. In those elections, nearly 14.4 million Ohioans cast ballots.

The integrity of America's elections rests on more than 900,000 civic-minded poll workers staffing nearly 117,000 polling places, reports the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan clearinghouse on election administration.

While very few of those poll workers could hope to match Marsh's longevity, most share his sense of satisfaction over making democracy work.

At the urging of his wife, Marsh began working the polls after serving in the Army as a lieutenant colonel and military police officer. Margaret Marsh was a Republican committeewoman whose duties included recruiting poll workers.

“I do it because I enjoy it,” Marsh said. “I enjoy it because it gives me a feeling that I'm making a contribution to society. I'm a great believer in democracy.”

Nationwide and locally, nearly one-fourth of poll workers are aged 71 or over. Over half are 61 or over. Half of the nation's county boards of election report difficulties recruiting enough poll workers.

The Franklin County Board of Elections needs 3,500 to 5,000 poll workers in general elections, and each year is challenged to recruit enough.

“We constantly work to identify new and creative ways to recruit poll workers,” said Elections Director Ed Leonard.

The Youth at the Booth program, which recruits 17- and 18-year-old high school students, supplied more than 800 poll workers in the November 2016 election. The elections board also encourages businesses and service organizations to provide workers.

The pay is low. In Franklin County, poll workers earn $148.72 for a 15-hour day. But making democracy work, as Marsh's devotion illustrates, cannot be priced.

Learn more about working the polls at vote.franklincountyohio.gov.