Public Servant: Clerk’s office prepares for election season

Before being hired at the Clark County Clerk’s office, John D. Ballard thought the election process only took a couple of days.

As he soon learned, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The Clark County native has worked in the clerk’s office for two years and spends a lot of time working on election-related matters. After last year’s local elections, Ballard and the rest of the staff are gearing up for this year’s state election. Absentee voting is already underway for the May 21 primary for state offices, including governor.

“I had no clue … I thought it took one or two days,” he said.

As he soon learned, preparing for an election takes months, especially for years with local elections.

“In a local election, we have to prepare the ballots and make sure everything is correct,” he said. With magistrate and school board elections, sometimes that meant preparing multiple ballots for one voting precinct, he said.

In 2018, every local race was on the ballot including three school board seats, all of Kentucky’s state representatives and several state senators, as well as a U.S. Representative spot, among others. This year, there is a governor’s race, along with the other top elected state officials. In 2020, there will be a presidential race along with a Kentucky state representative race, Winchester Board of Commissioners and two seats on the Clark County Board of Education. The following year, 2021, there will be no elections in Kentucky at all.

Absentee voting opens at least 14 days before the primary or general election, which brings differences based on local interest.

“Last year we were inundated with absentee (voters),” he said. “This year we’ve had four.”

Otherwise, elections require the same amount of work and the same processes: preparing the bags of equipment and materials for each of the 26 precincts, inspecting and preparing the voting machines, training the precinct workers and tallying the results.

Ballard, who also raises cattle, said the best part of the job is working with people, as he did in customer service at IBM for 34 years.

“I enjoy working with people,” he said.