The daily chats started during COVID. Carissa and Mark wanted to keep tabs on their mom, Teri, who wouldn’t let the pandemic keep her from her work at St. Joseph’s church in Golden. Teri was a hugger, making friends everywhere she went, and her kids needed to know she was staying safe out there. The daily chats turned to politics, a new interest for Teri, especially as the political climate shifted nationally, and suddenly it was a running conversation about the state of country.
Then there was the 2020 election. Headlines sounded the alarm about the shortage of election workers, and Teri told her kids that the message was clear—she needed to be part of the solution. They all needed to help fill the gap. Teri started talking about retiring and was thinking that being an election worker might be her next path. In 2022, she and Carissa both signed up to become election judges with Jefferson County, but it only worked out for Carissa to serve.
Carissa loved it. She’s an interior designer whose work is flexible and remote, so being an election judge fit with her schedule and gave her an inside look at the election process and how many steps are involved to keep Jeffco’s system secure, fair, and accessible. It felt really good to be part of something she cared a lot about, and she was eager to come back for another election. This time, Teri wasn’t going to miss out—she was going to be by her daughter’s side, on the front lines of democracy.
Just a week after the 2022 election, Teri passed away in her sleep. As Carissa and Mark grieved the loss of their mother, they also knew they couldn’t let her dream go unfulfilled. This November, Carissa and Mark will be serving as election judges in Jeffco, in honor of their mom.
Mark is taking time off from his work as an audio-visual engineer to join Jeffco’s election judge team. He and Carissa will be there for Teri, but also for themselves. “I want to believe that it doesn’t matter what side of the fence we’re on, we can all work together to make the process that our country was built on work,” says Mark. Carissa adds that, “as you get older, you come to understand where you stand a little more, what you’re passionate about,” and finds that being an election judge is “a confirmation of the knowledge that elections are secure and fair.”
With Teri on their minds and in their hearts, Mark and Carissa will be two of 380 election judges in Jeffco, working to build an equitable, accessible, trustworthy democracy for us all.
Jeffco is always looking for new election judges! The need remains high, especially for the November 2024 election. Learn more about the role and how to apply: https://www.jeffco.us/608/Election-Judges