DENVER (KDVR) — Monday was National Election Hero Day. Ahead of Election Day, folks celebrated the workers who make sure every vote is counted.

Many election judges sign up for the role to help their community, but for one pair of judges in Jefferson County, the meaning of the position is even deeper.

Carissa Thompson and Mark Lauwers are siblings. The pair said they have always been close.

“We actually grew up in Pleasant View right down the road over there,” Thompson said.

“We went to Golden High School together, and she went to CSU (Colorado State University) two years ahead of me,” Lauwers said. “Brought me up there once and I was sold, so followed her up there.”

Tying the two even closer together was their mother, Teri, who wanted to be an election judge before her sudden passing last year.

“The two of us were talking about doing this together this year, and then she passed the next week, so that was really hard. It was a shock. It was not anything expected,” Thompson said.

As difficult as it has been moving on with life after her passing, the pair signed up to work at the elections office in her honor while serving their community.

“The political duress that’s been out there — I want to be a part of something that can reinvigorate the election system and just be a part of our civic duty to be part of the election process, and just see how it works from the inside instead of just putting my ballot in the mail and letting that go and seeing the results, then that’s it,” Lauwers said.

Colorado election judges needed for 2024

Their county clerk, Amanda Gonzalez, hopes that others see their story and get inspired.

“This election, we brought on more than 350 workers, and for the presidential election in 2024, we will need about double that. And so this is a whole community affair. We need our whole community engaged, and we are so grateful to people like them and their mom for helping us do this, because we really couldn’t run our democracy without them,” Gonzalez said.

Election officials hope to continue making the pool of judges more diverse ahead of next year’s big election.