These folks make voters feel right at home at their polling place
Twice a year, Elizabeth Pazehoski moves her living room furniture to make room for the voters of Trafford District 1 in Allegheny County.
Her house serves as one of just six polling places in the county located in a private home or garage. Pazehoski said she is expecting a big crowd for the presidential election Tuesday — and big appetites.
"In the morning, we usually have coffee and doughnuts out for the workers," Pazehoski said. "For lunch, we usually have hoagies, and for dinner, we usually have a roast and mashed potatoes along with desserts for after dinner."
Private residential polling places are common in Philadelphia, but they are rare in and around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County elections officials said.
Because of a lack of available public buildings in some voting districts, the county has no choice but to have polling places at a private residence, said Mark Wolosik, Allegheny County elections manager.
"The election code provides that polling places be located in the actual election district or adjoining district and be held in public buildings wherever possible," Wolosik said.
Marlo Miller has been hosting polling in her Beechview garage since 1998 for voters in Pittsburgh's 20th Ward, second district.
"I've always worked the polls, and we use to have it at my mom's house," Miller said. "I don't have to move a lot in the garage other than a riding lawn mower that I move outside."
Miller, who has been volunteering at polls for more than three decades, is thankful for modern, electronic voting machines.
"It's not like what it used to be," Miller said. "We had to mark down all the votes.
"But now with the machines, it sort of does that. We just print it out, and it adds it up itself."
Like Pazehoski, Miller also will have food throughout the day for poll workers.
"We usually have everyone pitch in and bring something to eat," she said. "We used to just order stuff out, but we decided that it would be better if everyone just made something."
Miller said the dishes vary from year to year. "The judge of election usually makes hot sauce, but it changes all the time," she said. "This election, I think I am going to make potato soup and sloppy joes. Everybody brings something, but they usually don't say what they are bringing."
Pazehoski said just 10 of the 47 people registered in her district showed up to vote during this past spring's primary, but she expects a big turnout Tuesday.
"I'm sure this one coming up is going to be pretty big," Pazehoski said. "The people usually tend to always show up in big numbers during a presidential year."
Pazehoski said she feels like she is performing her civic duty by hosting the polls.
"I don't mind it at all. I do it for my country and neighbors," she said. "It's a long day, but you get to sit on the couch and watch TV while the day goes on."
Christopher Ward is a freelance writer.
In Beechview, Ashley Murray of Point Park News Service talked to some of the voters who visited Marlo Miller's home, which serves as a polling place.