Jean Foster Paves the Way for Democracy in Action at Oak Crest
PARKVILLE, MD—For Jean Foster, every election day since 1998 has started at the break of dawn.
Mrs. Foster, a resident of Oak Crest, is an election judge at the Parkville-based retirement community’s precinct in Crestview Station.
Months of preparation come down to a day that can last until midnight. But for Mrs. Foster, the experience is meaningful.
“I love volunteering,” she stated. “As Americans, we are privileged, and it is important that everyone gets a chance to be heard and vote in their own way.”
For Mrs. Foster, her involvement in Election Day civics is a continuation of a lifetime of helping others.
A registered nurse by profession, Mrs. Foster taught at Harford Technical High School (formerly Harford Vocational Tech) for its nursing assistant program and at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School for its LPN program.
She has given of her time at Bel Air United Methodist Church and the American Red Cross and earned recognition as a recipient of the Shining Star Award and the Maryland Heart Association All Star Award and as an inductee into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.
A campaign volunteer previously, Mrs. Foster had never served in an official capacity on Election Day until her move to Oak Crest. Along with her husband, Tom, the couple served as chief judges at the community’s first election in 1998.
At Oak Crest, Mrs. Foster is more than a judge. Her duties as an election judge at Oak Crest begin with mandatory training by the county Board of Elections.
In turn, and on her own in advance of the election, she conducts a training class for volunteers, all of whom are residents of Oak Crest. For the thirteen hours that the polls were open, she utilized 50 volunteers who worked in teams of eight each hour. Many gladly gave more than two hours of their time, and staff also supports this effort to provide a seamless transition for the shifts.
Their duties are mainly to greet and guide voters to the various stations and, when necessary, assist voters with special needs.
Through the years, she has witnessed changes in the process from paper ballots to the current touch-screen voting units and electronic poll books with a modem.
“Obviously, we will work tirelessly to make any of the systems work for voters, but the touch-screen voting units have advantages,” noted Mrs. Foster. “Voters can correct mistakes or change their minds easier, and the reporting process is much more efficient.”
Voter turnout at Oak Crest is typically above the state average because of the convenience for the 2,100 residents. “Because of the smooth running of this primary, we judges are looking forward to November when everyone can vote,” stated Mrs. Foster. But it’s more than location.
“Senior citizens really do care about all of the issues because we have children and grandchildren,” said Mrs. Foster. “Their futures are important and that makes the hard work and preparation worthwhile.”