For Christina Redden, the Glynn County Board of Elections’ new assistant elections and registration supervisor, serving the people of the Golden Isles in her official capacity is a passion.
“(Glynn County) is just an area I believe in, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to do this. I mean, you want to do this for a place you think you can make a difference and make an impact,” Redden said.
“I think if you didn’t care about your town, I don’t think you could deal with the stress of it. Three days before the election, and the phone’s ringing every 25 seconds, and sometimes it’s the (Georgia Secretary of) State, and sometimes it’s a voter and sometimes it’s a lawyer, and they all want your time. I think if you didn’t care, it would be too easy to drown in the stress of it all.”
A Virginia native, Redden and her family settled down in the Golden Isles in 2007.
“New Year’s Eve of 2006, technically, but Jan. 1 (of 2007) was our first full day here. We had, on vacation, come here several times, and we loved the area,” Redden said. “He (Redden’s husband) was an engineer, and I could pretty much do my job from anywhere, so I followed him around for a while, and we eventually decided to settle down.
“It’s kind of a funny story. We said ‘You know, it would be really cool if we could go somewhere within 50 miles of that town Brunswick that we used to go to.’ And then there was a job, and it was a great job for him, right here in Brunswick. It’s been a home ever since.
“We had newborn twins, and we had moved so many times and we were looking for a place to grow old and raise our twins. This is the place we want our kids to call home.”
It didn’t take long for her to situate herself in the community, getting involved in her children’s school and local events.
It wasn’t until later that Redden would sign on as a poll worker, but she was already a familiar face with many in the elections office before she took the job, she said. Still, she didn’t really expect it to turn into an actual job.
“When I first started (former elections and registration supervisors) Tina (Edwards) and Monica (Couch) were here,” Redden said. “No, I wouldn’t have ever thought. You can ask April (Key, an administrative technician at the board of elections). When I came to sign up, I was here to help my mother-in-law register to vote, and she came right outside and said ‘Have you ever considered being a poll worker?’ That is how the journey started.”
After several years and many elections, she was bumped up to poll manager. During the 2018 midterm elections, she took a larger role in the board’s main office on Gloucester Street in downtown Brunswick.
“During this previous election, I was invited to come in and essentially be put in charge of absentee ballots. As you can imagine, it was probably one of Georgia’s most contested races,” Redden said. “I think my new procedures I put in place, the way I handled the various situations that came up, impressed them enough for them to consider me for this position.”
Contested would be a good way to phrase it. Glynn County voters turned out in record numbers for the midterm elections, very nearly reaching the bar set by the 2016 presidential election. In Glynn County, 32,760, or roughly 60.4 percent, turned out to vote. During the prior midterm election in 2014, 20,530 turned out.
“No matter how bad the workload was, it was a phenomenal year,” Redden said. “It was a phenomenal year for just how many people got involved in the process. Yes, it was tough, it was stressful, but it was exciting to have people go ‘Hey, I can play a role in this.’”
It was in that frantic setting that Redden said she believes she proved herself capable of taking the assistant supervisor job.
“As a poll worker, a lot of my experience was with the voters themselves,” Redden said. “It wasn’t until the past election that I really got to interact with the state side, and the different parties and organizations and the board members themselves.”
However, she thinks that direct contact with voters provided a lot of valuable insight on its own and will directly benefit her new job.
“I do think talking to the voters as a poll worker and a poll manager gave me a different perspective when I came in here, because I had heard the worries, I had heard the commentary,” Redden said. “I felt like I could represent the citizens of Glynn County a little better.”
Redden has a degree in history from Virginia Polytechnic and State University, and most of her professional experience is in advertising and marketing. She helps multiple companies manage their advertisements and websites.
“I have been the face to the public for a lot of different organizations,” Redden said.
She hopes to be able to segue that experience into her job at the board of elections, educating the public and hopefully establishing a direct line of communication.
“One of my priorities is going to be to get people informed and feel comfortable contacting us with any questions they have and not worry about what they may have seen on social media or heard in the news. Just pick up the phone, give us a call and we’ll answer you,” Redden said. “I feel like the voters of Glynn County are important to me, and if they’re important to me I can serve them.”During the board’s slow season — the only election this year is the city of Brunswick’s municipal election — her job consists of “training, training, training,” but once things start picking up she’ll be tasked with a lot of administrative work, as well as the typical work of registering voters and staying in contact with voter registration groups and political parties. More duties will come as she finishes her training.
And on the horizon is the upcoming presidential election, which is sure to be a big one. New voting machines the public will have to learn to use, combined with what could be another record turnout at the polls, has the board already preparing for the trial.
“(Elections and Registration Supervisor) Chris (Channel) and I’s goal is to have the public as familiarized with the new machines as possible,” Redden said. “Have them demonstrated at different public places, public meetings, maybe even set them up here and invite the public to come in and check them out.”
To sum it up, she said she’s committed to making sure the public has all the tools it needs to vote and to vote with confidence.
“I think if people feel informed, they will feel secure in their right to vote,” Redden said.