For seven years, St. Pete Beach resident Joe Guertin has seen the dawn break over Boca Ciega Bay on every election day. Mr. Guertin serves as the Precinct Deputy at the St. Pete Beach Community Center, the polling place for Precincts 404 and 405. As Precinct Deputy, he arrives at 5:30 in the morning and stays until the very end of every election.
“I enjoy it,” Mr. Guertin says as he keeps an eye on the people approaching the polls late Tuesday afternoon. “I enjoy meeting the people.”
He doesn’t have any figures, but he says the turnout is high. What makes him say that?
“There’s been a lot of people I haven’t recognized,” he says. On his shirt, a button lets people know he’s the Precinct Deputy. As Precinct Deputy, he “maintains order at the polling place; helps in the setup and closing of the precinct, designates the no political activity area, and ensures the polling place is ADA compliant,” according to the Supervisor of Elections.
He also wears a collection of pins, one for each year he has worked elections. Like many others, he considers himself a volunteer. Poll workers receive a small amount of money: between $115 and $190 for the day, plus $10 for every training class they attend. They must pack their lunch; they cannot leave the polling place. The highest-paid poll workers average $12.67 per hour; the lowest, $7.67.
That’s if things go well.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get out of here by eight o’clock,” he says. “Maybe 8:30.”
Mr. Guertin served his country another way, too: in World War II, he served in the Pacific on the Wisconsin and Missouri battleships. He talks about his time in the service and how he’s been on every battleship in the Pacific class.
When the conversation returns to working the polls, he says this may be his last year.
“It’s a very interesting day,” he says from his chair at the poll entrance “but it’s a very long day.”