Photos: A long day for election judges

1 Gregory Carlson turns on the ballot counting machine at the Nokomis Community Center, the polling place for Minneapolis Ward 12, Precinct 11. The chair judge arrived at 5:30am to prepare the center for Election Day. "I actually got up at 3:30 this morning," says Carlson. "I was too excited to sleep." 
2 Before voters arrive, Chair Gregory Carlson and Assistant Chair Ellen Velasco-Thompson check the ballots to make sure all candidates are listed correctly. 
3 Student Judge Drew Perrier is sworn in by Chair Judge Gregory Carlson. Perrier is a 17-year-old at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. This is the second year he's helped out on Election Day. "I get to miss school," says Perrier, "and get paid. It's great." 
4 At the Ward 12, Precinct 11 polling place in Minneapolis, it's a tradition for election judges to bring in food to share with the entire team. Chair Judge Gregory Carlson made "cookies, (and) a couple quiches. The beef roast was easy, you just marinade it for 48 hours." 
5 Assistant Chair Judge Ellen Velasco-Thompson (left) will work from about 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Election Day. Her two necessities: lots of fluids to keep her hydrated and a "cushion to sit on so the chair isn't so uncomfortable."" 
6 Gregory Carlson has been an election judge for 6 years. He instituted a system of colored tablecloths for the polling place tables. He says it's much easier "to direct people to the 'green table' rather than to the 'registration table.' It makes more sense to them." 
7 Gregory Carlson likes "some color" n the polling place so he always contributes the decorations. Working Election Day, says Carlson, is "a real adrenaline rush. It's my Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one." 
8 Gregory Carlson is relieved to discover another judge has brought a cake for the team to snack on during the day. "Oh, good," says Carlson. "I didn't have a chance to make a cake this time. I got too busy with the cookies." 
9 Chair Judge Gregory Carlson begins welcoming voters to the Nokomis Community Center at 7 a.m. sharp. 
10 Chair Judge Gregory Carlson loves being part of the election process. "We're lucky to live in a country where we have the freedom to vote," he says. "There are so many people in other places who would love to have the chance to elect their officials."