Reflections

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Netflix is popular.

The head of asset acquisition for a large golf management company is binging on The Queen’s Gambit. The principal of a leading golf public relations firm is enthralled with The Crown.  Several golf course owners are watching Yellowstone and Schitt’s Creek. A member of the ASGCA and his wife are viewing House of Cards.  I have binged through all 155 episodes of West Wing .  Collectively, we are all eschewing watching the news and the nightly cacophony of chaos.

As we enter the throes of winter and a quiet holiday season, I wonder if this massive escape to TV is our subconscious beckoning us to still the waters in what has become a turbulent society.  Emotions run high.  We have all collectively celebrated throughout our lives the red, white, and blue.  Today, the white, representing freedom and civility, appears lost as we have become a nation of merely red or blue.

Since 1989, I have maintained two rules in writing. First, I have never mentioned the name of a PGA or LPGA player.  Second, I am mindful of the lines between white, gray, and black concerning politics and religion and have never ventured to discuss the subjects.

Until now, hoping only to embrace the line between white and gray – for there is a refuge in which we can all take comfort and solace.

On November 4, 2020, at 7:25 a.m. I cried as my wife awoke and asked how I was doing.

I had spent the previous two days (20 hours) as an Election Supervisor for the City and County of Denver at South High School.  One of its famed graduates is Phillip Lindsay, the running back for the Denver Broncos.

Though I volunteered to serve in Douglas County as I live in Castle Pines, I was assigned to the Denver Elections Division as they lacked sufficient registered Republican volunteers.

Little did I know what lay ahead.  Thirty hours of online classes and four hours of in-person training learning the responsibilities and duties of Registration Judges, Greeter Judges, Support Judges, Wait Time Judges, Voting Tech Judges, Voter Registration Hotline Judges, the Ballot Security Team, Assistant Supervisors, and the Supervisor’s role to which I was assigned.

The prevailing mantra by which we were directed was to make sure every qualified citizen was given the opportunity to vote.

Over 80% of Colorado citizens vote via mail-in ballot.   Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are considered the “Gold Standard” for election policies and procedures.

Interestingly, every registered citizen in Colorado gets a mail ballot.  The return envelope and ballot are coded, requiring the ballot to be returned in the proper envelope. For example, if a husband places his ballot in the wife’s envelope, the ballot is pulled out.  The individual is notified that they have the opportunity to cure their vote.  If two ballots are in one envelope, it creates an exception in which the registered voters are allowed to cure prior to 7:00 p.m. on election day.

Upon receipt of a ballot by Denver Elections, before being opened, the signature on the outside envelope is scanned.  The signature is then matched to various databases: Colorado Secretary of State registration records, Colorado Department of Driver’s Licenses, State of Colorado Department of Revenue tax records, etc.  If the signature doesn’t match, before the ballot being opened, it is manually inspected by a team of two judges – one Democrat, one Republican, or Independent.  All have to agree that the signature is valid before the ballot being opened.  If not, the registered voter is given the opportunity to cure the ballot.

Once the ballot is accepted, you are notified by email.

On November 2, 2020, at 6:30 a.m., I met, for the first time, 24 individuals in which it was our responsibility to have the poll set-up and full functionality within 90 minutes.

The initial task was having 12 registration judges log into their computer after they had removed them from the locked trunks.  The individual first had to login into their computer with a unique ID and a temporary password.  The temporary password was required to be updated to a 16-character length password that had precise requirements, i.e., no expressions, no names – just a combination of random alphabetic characters, numbers, and symbols.  Once onto the network, there was another level of security:  the Entrust Card.  It consisted of 10 columns and five rows.  The SCORE system (Colorado’s Ballot Software) prompted the Registration Judge to enter three numbers listed on the card, i.e., B2, D5, I4, to be able to gain access to print a ballot.   Each individual had a unique Entrust Card.

Line A registration judges processed voters who did not require an update to their voter registration record and merely had to sign a registration card and present one of thirteen different forms of ID.  Interestingly, a Social Security Card was not a valid form of ID as one’s residence is not listed.  Those that were very comfortable with computers opted to serve as Registration Line B judges where new voters or those updating their record would receive their ballot after submitting a registration card.

It should be noted that upon entering the voter’s ID, if their mail ballot had been accepted and processed, the software prevented the Registration Judge from printing another ballot.

Two individuals from different political parties were assigned to oversee the Ballot boxes.  Greeter judges, ballot box observers, registration support personnel, and individuals assigned to sanitize each workstation after every voter were rotated every 1 ½ hours.  We also had to administer oaths to each of the Poll Watchers after signing an affidavit acknowledging their responsibilities.  We had both Democratic and Republican poll workers who could stand behind the registration judges and view the process.

Over two days, we saw all walks of life.   We saw every permutation possible in citizens seeking to vote.   Individuals from Oregon and Mississippi wanting to vote in the Presidential Election.  Individuals were residing in one County wanting to vote in Denver.  Those who wanted to vote on Denver ballot initiatives but had not registered by October 12.  A Denver University college student being shepherded by her roommates to register and vote for her very first time.  A Colorado license that appeared valid based on the expiration date but couldn’t be validated online.  A poll judge questioning the validity of a voter’s registration.

For all exceptions, a “provisional ballot” was issued that was subsequently reviewed in Denver Election headquarters by a team of qualified judges.  There was a total of 63 Provisional Ballots issued by the 20 polling locations in Denver for the 2020 Presidential Election.  On December 2, 2020, we learned that during a two-hour Supervisor debriefing with the Colorado Secretary of State and Denver Election officials. Shortly thereafter, I received the following letter.  Download

Each night upon the poll closing, we had to reconcile the registration cards signed to ballots printed, ballots voided, and provisional ballots issued, etc., which were given to the Ballot Security Team for delivery to Election Headquarters for an audit.  Tolerable variance = zero.

As I pondered my wife’s question, “How are you doing this morning? ” the emotions then and now as I write this came pouring out.  The overwhelming sensation was one of patriotic humility that every citizen had the opportunity to participate in democracy.   There was also a tremendous relief realizing I had fulfilled my civic responsibility properly.  It was amazing the warm bond that was so quickly formed amongst strangers that shared a common purpose.

But there was one other realization.

I am, and those we who are reading this, very fortunate that we provide through golf a sanctuary from the din of life for so many.  The opportunity for friends to enjoy each other’s company, business associates to gather, the young to learn life skills, provide athletes the opportunity to compete, and others the chance to enjoy nature through a leisurely walk.

We, in the golf industry, provide an important escape that enhances the quality of life to all those who participate in our sport, and for that I am, and you are, privileged, very fortunate, and incredibly grateful.

May we together in 2021 offer civility and enjoyment to all as a refuge from the throes of life and the challenges it presents.

Author:  James J. Keegan, Envisioning Strategist, and Reality Mentor.  His sixth book, “The Winning Playbook for Golf Courses: Shorts-Cuts for Long-Term Financial Success,” was released on June 20, 2020, https://jjkeegan.com/product-category/book-store/.  Keegan was named one of the Top 10 Golf Consultants and Golf Advisor of the Year in 2017 by Golf, Inc. Keegan has traveled more than 2,990,000 miles on United Airlines, visiting over 250 courses annually and meeting with owners and key management personnel at more than 6,000 courses in 58 countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 comments

  1.    Reply

    Jim – I am grateful for your dedication to the greatest game on earth and for your commitment to ensure the election process was indeed valid and secure. The hypocrisy coming from our elected officials is disturbing to say the least and your piece makes me realize even more that every vote does count and it is “we the people” who elect our representatives, not the courts. You should be very proud of your participation in the democratic system of elections.

    I am fortunate to call you a friend and look forward to seeing you again soon. Happy New Year to you and your family. Stay healthy & safe!

  2.    Reply

    Jim

    I found your “Reflections Part 1” compelling, and quite inspirational. You succeeded in educating me on all things good about how secure my vote is, and that people like you should be congratulated for your willingness to serve your community, state, and nation.
    I found it so enlightening that I have passed it onto others in my circle of family, friends, and golf colleagues, with the hope to educate in a more meaningful way on how these things work.
    Thank you.

  3.    Reply

    “Senior national officials” should be amended to “senior national ELECTED officials,” those who got where they are by a democratic process of voting and now wish to tear down that which supports the world’s oldest democracy. It’s hypocrisy at the highest level.

  4.    Reply

    JJ,

    Excellent piece. We are certainly on the same page when it comes to the true value of golf. I also commend you for carrying out that election position. Daunting.

    You might refer to an article in the USGA GOLF JOURNAL, Winter 2020, ‘What is a Golf Course’ on page 60. I think the article needs to be repeated in USA Today because it clearly shows the benefits a golf course provides a community – golfers and non-golfers.

    Mike

  5.    Reply

    I appreciate your description of the checks and balances within the American election system.

  6.    Reply

    Here here Jim… wholeheartedly agree. Correct observation… we golfers are very lucky. I look forward to our next game.
    Best Wishes for 2021,
    David

  7.    Reply

    JJ, a wonderful delineation of the dedication of patriotic Americans to ensure that every vote was cast fairly. You are certainly justified in your emotions of the morning after; but despite your aversion to the news — can’t blame you there— that is not the end of the story. Your next letter should consider your emotions after realizing that your dedication and, indeed, your integrity has been called into question by senior national officials whom you may have trusted with your vote. Golf is indeed a wonderful escape, but not from everything. Larry