LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Election Day has passed, ballot machines are stored away, but the people who make it all happen have remained working.
November 4th was a relief for Angelina County Election Administrator Elizabeth Hawkins. “When I walked into the office you didn’t hear the phone ring and that was kind of a sigh of relief,” she said.
But the lack of phone calls doesn’t mean they haven’t stayed busy.
“It’s been extremely busy. We’ve been doing partial manual count,” Hawkins said. “Basically what that is, is the Secretary of State gives us a certain number of precincts and we have to go in and manually count every single one of those ballots that have been voted.”
And like many things this year, there were unexpected problems.
“We were looking for one ballot out of 25 thousand of them,” Hawkins said. “And we got through the last of the 25 thousand to be able to find that last one.”
Hawkins has two full time staff members, Andrea and Sonya, who are working on boxing up ballot by mail and completing public requests. Emily McGaughey, is one of the temporary workers, but was averaging about 10 hours a day during early voting.
“Working in this office is not for the faint of heart,” McGaughey said. “You have to be strong mentally, emotionally, and physically.”
McGaughey said they have laughed, cried, and spent more time together than with their families, but she continues to do it.
“I do want to stress again that, how this staff, this office does hold themselves to such a high standard,” McGaughey said. “I want the voters to know that they can come into Angelina County and vote with confidence that everything is being done right, by the laws.”
Hawkins has been working through this weekend to be sure final steps get done and that everyone gets paid and that ballots are ready for canvassing tomorrow.
“Then I have to turn around and get the COVID-19 funds done,” Hawkins said. “I have to break that down, get it submitted by November the 30th.”
Hawkins tells us that some days they were working 20 hour days. They will begin work for the 2022 election early next year.