Statement from Kammi Foote, Inyo County Registrar of Voters:
[On election night, March 3, at around 10:30 pm in the evening, election volunteer, Jim Hartshorn, collapsed in the lobby of the Independence Courthouse. Despite heroic efforts of CPR, he passes away that night.
The full statement made by Kammi Foote is posted on our website at sierrawave.net.
Good morning, For the record, I am Kammi Foote, the Registrar of Voters for Inyo County.
This morning I would like to take the opportunity to say a few words about the events that happened on Election Night.
Every election is stressful. To conduct an election well, it takes months of planning, organization, coordination with candidates, vendors, other county and state election officials, other departments, volunteers, facilities managers, technologists and voters. It is a huge undertaking and we are honored and privileged to be able to serve our community, protecting one of their most important freedoms: your right to vote. But with all the planning in the world, nothing can prepare you for what we all experienced at the courthouse last Tuesday night.
For those of you that don’t know, shortly after 10:30 pm, moments after he delivered the ballots from the Fairgrounds, Jim Hartshorn collapsed in the lobby of the courthouse. And although life saving measures were begun almost immediately, sadly, tragically, devastatingly, Jim passed away that night.
This would have been incredibly traumatic and tragic if it was any volunteer, or member of the public, but what makes this especially heartbreaking for us in the elections office – is that we all know and love Michele and her entire family. Some of you may not know, but although Michele has been a part of the county family for the past 10 years, her and I have worked together for the past 20 years. We have watched our children grow up together. And if you know Michele, her family is the most important part of her life. We are all grieving for the Hartshorns during this difficult time.
No one knows how they will respond in an emergency, until they experience it for themselves. And this morning I would like to take the opportunity to personally express my gratitude to those that have gone way above and beyond the call of service.
First, I would like to thank the elections department staff – Brenda and Brandon – who, after working under the extraordinary stress and increased workload for weeks leading up the election, and after Brenda was there until midnight with me to finish the election night vote counting, showed up to work at 8:00 am on Wednesday morning and every day since to serve the voters of this community. It has not been easy for any of us as our hearts are breaking, but we recognize that we still have a duty to the voters of Inyo County to count the remaining ballots.
I also would like to express my extreme gratitude to the volunteers who were there with us on Election Night. We ask a lot of our volunteers. They are there with us counting votes on weekends and evenings, often volunteering year after year and election after election. They become an extension of our office and our family. So not only was this traumatic for them, they are also heartbroken for Michele and her family. And yet, they are also still showing up every day to finish the count. And during our debriefing, it became so clear to me how much each one of them did for the community that night. Two volunteers and a candidate immediately went to Jim’s aid, others cleared the path of travel for the ambulance, some went searching for needed supplies, some provided aid and support for Michele, Taylor and Olivia, others stayed and protected the integrity of the ballots until we resumed counting. I cannot thank them enough.
I would also like to thank the emergency responders. Until you are in a situation waiting for emergency help to arrive, you may not be able to fully appreciate the sacrifices that volunteer fire and EMT responders give in service to their communities. One of the responders was a 17-year-old female. She, and the entire Independence Fire Department have my sincere appreciation and respect.
I would like to thank the County Administrator and all the other departments who have reached out, offered support and helped to ensure that we can still function as County Department. And in case you didn’t already know, Sue Dishion has been so incredibly helpful, and I don’t know how I could have navigated the administrative part of this without her right there by our side.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about Jim, Michele, Olivia and Taylor. All four of them were volunteering for elections that day. That is who they are. They would do anything for anyone who needed help. And you cannot know any of the Hartshorns without knowing how important family is to them. There are so many what ifs and we don’t have answers for so many questions that remain in our minds. But one thing is certain, Jim Hartshorn, and the Hartshorn family, will always be my forever heroes. Even on the eve of what was later to become one of the their most tragic nights, their last collective act, Jim’s last act, was delivering the ballots safely to the courthouse. So, I would just like to say to the Hartshorn family – our hearts are with you. We love you. You are our heroes.