John Sarlya- People profile

John Sarlya, poll worker, assists voters in various capacities in Washington County.

Whether you’re voting early or on election day, it doesn’t matter to John Sarlya, election poll worker; he just wants to make sure your voice is heard.

Sarlya, a resident of Brenham since 2001, enjoys being a part of the electoral process and sees his duty as an important one.

“This is probably what matters most: Being able to see and make sure that we have a fair election,” he said. “You’re in a process and watching the process and buying into it and seeing that it’s validated. That’s the most important thing: To have a vote that really counts, whether it’s for a Republican or for a Democrat.”

Sarlya sees this role as an opportunity to get involved in his community and to make sure the right people vote.

“You want people to think that their vote is heard and that somebody cares about whether their vote is actually being counted properly,” he said. “And then, people that should be able to vote (can) vote and those who shouldn’t go through a different process. Maybe their votes will count, but that’s not my decision.”

Part of Sarlya’s duties is to assist people who have limited mobility to vote.

He is glad the county has a handicap program to assist those who cannot get out of their cars to vote. A voter parks in the designated spot in front of the Courthouse Annex and honks their horn and a poll worker will bring a ballot to them.

Sarlya is hoping this election gets more people to communicate. When a voter walks into the annex, they get to choose between a Republican ballot initiative or Democratic ballot initiative.

“I’m personally a big proponent of people being able to communicate,” he said. “A lot of Republicans and Democrats have very similar ideals and ideas and the best thing that they could possibly do is communicate so we can all win. It’s kind of a local way to work together in like a really small way. This is still important. It’s community. And you can be a Republican or you can be a Democrat. I mean, in times of disaster, does anybody really care what party you belong to?”

In the midst of election season, Sarlya is looking for the good in every situation and conversation.

“More noise needs to be made about how people come together and work together,” he said. “Some people like to make more noise so that they’re heard. Just because they make more noise and they’re louder, doesn’t make them right. I don’t care what side of the fence you’re on. You can find good in anybody.”

Sarlya stressed that two people can still be friends despite differing beliefs.

“You can be totally different politically. That doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and share a meal together,” he said. “There’s a lot of other things that you can share: It’s all about how open you are.”

Sarlya hopes every voter will come to the polls informed and hopes in the future that more information be given to voters to make informed decisions.

Early voting ends Friday and Election Day is March 3.

Early voting is available at the Courthouse Annex, 100 S. Park Street in downtown Brenham.

Bring a photo ID or your voter registration card to vote.

Early voting hours are extended to 7 p.m. today and normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will resume for the rest of the week.

To view a sample ballot, visit https://bit.ly/2wM9yc4 or ask for one in-person at the annex.

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