Ahead of the election, KX News reported over and over: North Dakota counties were in need of poll workers, big time.

The pandemic made many wary to return. But even the coronavirus didn’t stop a few familiar faces from manning the polls.

When asked how long he’s been a poll worker, Aanders Jackson laughed.

“We were trying to figure this out, and I’m guessing…” he trailed off in thought.

“I know it’s more than 20 years.”

Jackson has been volunteering as a poll worker in the capital city every year since.

“…Centennial to Horizon Middle School, and then the last few cycles have been here at the church, at Century Baptist,” he shared.

The reason he started all those years ago is the same reason there were a lot of new faces behind plexiglass screens in 2020, election workers were needed.

“It’s hard work, it’s a long day and can be grueling on the back and the legs, but it’s fun. You’re doing your civic duty, and you can at least go and make it so that people aren’t afraid of what they’re doing,” Jackson explained.

And even though he’s a veteran volunteer, there’s training every year, with just a couple of things introduced this year: new poll books, voting machines, and a lot of cleaning.

I asked him if he was nervous about returning to the job during a pandemic.

He said no, elaborating, “Between me and my wife, we’ve kind of lived the whole COVID thing and infection control since January. So yeah, it’s just another day.”

Except on Election Day, he is a funeral director and his wife is a dentist.

Jackson and the rest of the volunteers show up at 6 a.m. on Election Day, and by the time everything is said and done, it’s about a 15-hour day… but, a worthwhile one.

“According to the County Auditor, it’s one of the best-run states, election-wise, in the country so I’m proud to be a part of that,” he concluded.

Between early and mail-in voting, Jackson says his polling location at Century Baptist saw about 25% less traffic this year.

The church served as the largest polling location in Burleigh County.