Joanne Brodsky began her duties as an election precinct chair for Precinct 472 in Houston’s Old Braeswood neighborhood in 1982.
And she has served in that position ever since.
“I really believe in our election process,” Brodsky said. “I think everybody should vote.”
Brodsky took that attitude a step further, however.
Not content with just performing her duties as Democratic precinct chair — identifying members of her party living in the precinct and encouraging them to vote — she opened up her own two-car garage as a polling place.
Brodsky has been retired for the past several years from her position as a nurse at Texas Medical Center’s Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, though even when she was working a full-time job, Brodsky was serving in the position.
She registered her address at 2347 Underwood St., Houston, as an official polling place—one of over 800 voting centers in Harris County open on Election Day Nov. 3—and will be helping set up voting machines on Election Day alongside her Republican counterpart, Ann Garnett, who also opens up her own garage when voting oversight shifts to her party.
This is possible because Brodsky and Garnett serve not only as election precinct chairs, but also as election judges, Brodsky said. And according to the Texas election code, residences can serve as polling locations as long as it is not occupied by a candidate or a relative of one.
Periodically, Harris County reviews the voting pattern in each precinct to determine who will serve as presiding judge; the other judge becomes the alternate election judge. In the upcoming election, Brodsky will be presiding, while Garnett will serve as the alternate.
“We have a lovely working relationship,” Brodsky said.
A similar warm and inviting atmosphere can be felt in Old Braeswood during election season and on election day, Brodsky said.
Though COVID-19 health guidelines prevent her from doing so this election cycle, Brodsky has, in the past, set up a playpen in her front yard for children while their parents wait in line to vote.
Connecting and participating in the elective process with her neighbors has always been a pull for Brodsky in continuing her duties as a precinct chair and election judge.
“You get to see your neighbors,” she said. “You get to check in, hear about what’s going on. It’s lovely.”
For someone with a passion for voting and the elective process, it helps that, politically, the neighborhood has always been rather active.
“This neighborhood has a real core group who is concerned about everyone voting, both Republican and Democrat,” Brodsky said.
Resident’s Old Braeswood garage has served as election polling place for nearly 40 years
Joanne Brodsky has continued to open up her two-car garage as a polling place for nearly 40 years. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)