Behind the Election

Most of us do our best to educate ourselves on the ballot items for each election. We make time to get to the polls and cast our votes. Then, we eagerly wait for the results on the evening news. But there is more to the process. A lot more.

South Burlington City Clerk Donna Kinville gives us a glimpse of the work behind an election. “The process is finely detailed and timed, and begins months before election day.  My team consists of staff, elected officials, and volunteers,” said Donna. The Board of Civil Authority (BCA) which oversees elections for the City is comprised of elected officials including City Council members, 15 elected Justices of Peace, and the City Clerk.  “Together, we ensure that the public voice is collected, tallied, and shared.”Donna_Window

This team has been working more than usual with four elections in the past 12 months—local issues, a presidential election, and the school budget. Let’s take a look at the inner workings:

  • Process voter applications. Confirming residency. Maintain registered voter list.
  • Post warnings, voter rights, and sample ballots in each of 4 polling districts.
  • Create and print ballots.
  • Schedule and set up secure polling locations.
  • Schedule and train election workers.
  • Manage absentee voting, including mobile voting.
  • Prepare the tally and summary sheets.
  • Test tabulating machines, if used.  

Election Day

All of the moving parts are put into motion and the election team begins before dawn. By 7 am, the doors are open at the polling locations and workers are checking in voters and explaining the ballot process. Every step is well-tuned and voter lines ebb and flow throughout the long day. In addition,

  • officials process absentee ballots;
  • election workers run polling locations, with oversight from the BCA;
  • the City Clerk and the BCA monitor polling locations to meet 
    election law requirements, including campaign sign placement
    and representatives outside the polls;
  • in each location, workers close the polls and tabulate results;
  • pack up each polling location and return all ballots, results,
    and materials to City Hall;
  • once all 4 districts have reported back to City Hall, the final
    report or results is prepared; and
  • election results are posted to the City’s website and reported
    to the Secretary of State, City Council, candidates, and the media.


After a short night’s sleep, the work continues back in the City Clerk’s office and usually lasts several days. In between the usual flow in the office and often with tax installment payment deadlines, the following final tasks are completed—

  • Staff verify numbers and provide an official report to the Secretary of State, including details on each item and/or candidate. Individual write in names must be listed and tallied.
  • All election material is stored in the City vault.
  • New voters, who registered on election day, are confirmed.
  • Each voter who participated is recorded.