Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Remembrances of Working an Election

A few weeks ago we got a phone call from the Grand High Poo-bahs who run elections in our county inquiring if we were free to work the polls on Election Day this month.
Hubs took the call and told me about it and how he never remembered signing up to do this and told the woman "no thanks!"(his immediate response to anyone who wants him to do anything lolz).
So I remembered I had signed on a Volunteers Needed List when we voted back in the 2016 election and that's why she called us.
Hubs rolled his eyes at me and I said well YOU don't have to do this but it would be A-a way to get you out of the house for a day and B-a way to put your political philosophizing(he can yammer on ad nauseum about politics if given a chance)into action and fulfill your civic duty.
So I shamed him into working the polls basically.  ;-)

We attended a training session back in late October which lasted 2+ hours.  This election the county moved from a physical paper book of registered voters to an electronic iPad system.  The voting machines were already of the electronic type(since before the 2012 election cycle).  I got trained on the iPad voter registry book and Hubs got the big training on the voting machines(which wasn't has involved as my training but it was an overview of all the jobs that need doing on Election Day).

So we showed up a bit after 6 am yesterday morning for a very long day of work.

There were 2 of the 4 districts in this new polling place.  Turns out this township had broken up the voting population from 1 district into 4 for this election(after the tiny polling station in 2016 was so inundated by voters that the line was 500 people deep at times and it took until 11pm to get everyone's vote in that time).   So there was a lot of confusion among the voters where they were to report to for voting.  One person showed up after showing up at two other locations(first the municipal building-where there was NO voting being done, I guess she just assumed to go there, then to the old location where the whole district use to vote at and then they sent her to our location).  Had she known where to go the first time she would have saved a load of time and driving as the actual polling place was the closest to her house of the three places she went to. ;-)

Most people, even though everyone got a notice of where their voting location was in the mail a month ago, had no clue what district they were in and/or where they needed to vote at.
So we got a lot of practice on the machine looking up where someone was suppose to report and it was convenient that most of them we just sent across the room to the other districts table/polling location.

Of the two sets of election workers teams, ours was made up of "virgin" workers.....from the Judge of Election down to the Clerk of Elections all 5 of us were new to the process of working a polling site.
I was elected the Majority Inspector and worked on the electronic polling book with my fellow Minority Inspector Dan.
To lighten the mood I told our Judge of Elections that I was disappointed I wasn't selected as the "Modern Major General" instead and launched into the song...............

Dan and I had gone to the same voting registry book training class and shared a machine there so we felt comfortable working together and he was a hoot.  Our Election Clerk was a chatty dear as well and the three of us made the day fun inside of a 15 hours slog. 8-))

We three places bets on how many voters we'd get(the clerk won that one), we had a race with the other district on who got the most voters(they did)and we secretly ate snacks that the other districts workers brought(being new, nobody told us to bring food).
We showed "Come on Down!" to folks standing in the entrance who were unsure of where to go. And everyone was given a "lovely parting gift"(an "I Voted" sticker)along with their "Magic Voting Ticket" to take to the machine operator.
Between the clerk and the minority inspector they seemed to talk about food All. Day. Long!  There was much laughter among the serious business of democracy.

There were a few snafus throughout the day--I got trained to load the ballot thing into the voting machine as a back-up person too and on one occasion my finger slipped and I marked that the voter wanted their ballot to appear in Spanish instead of the English option they wanted.  Oops.  No harm as the other teams Judge knew how to back out of that one.

The biggest issue was that our electronic voter book started losing batter power quickly in the last hour(suppose to be a 20 hour battery life and we should have been fine)and the cord to plug it into the outlet(so it didn't run off the battery) wasn't working.  It was a race to 8 pm and then to have enough juice to print off the two reports I needed to do to enclose in the paperwork.  We squeaked by on that one.

We had one person show up after 8 pm who didn't get to vote.........the book was closed and the machines were shut down promptly at 8 and they showed up a minute or so later.  A flurry of phone calls to the higher ups about what to do but it was a case of too late, sorry, you should have gotten here before 8pm.

There were quite a few older folks who needed help with the electronic machines because they weren't techno-savvy but everyone who needed assistance got it.

My iPad book would sometimes indicate I had to ask someone to Show ID before they checked in and some folks took offense at this.  The Judge thought it was because they hadn't voted in a number of years(but weren't marked "Inactive" yet) but it seemed to be a random pattern.....maybe to see if the operating of the book was paying attention or something. lolz

I got a person who wanted to vote in German when I was manning the voting machines once but that was not an option. ;-)

A lot of folks asked about the voter turn out...whether it had been heavy or light or somewhere in between.  Being an "off, off" year turn out was light as I had expected.  Our district had a 30% turn out rate.

There were also comments made by some voters about using a church as a polling station.  Some expressed certain that churches were not appropriate places to vote(sighting separation of church and state-though they were totally misconstruing that issue here!).  Some said being in a church made some people uncomfortable(for whatever reason)and bitched about it to us.  I told them to be thankful they weren't in some districts in CA where you go to your neighbors garage to vote on election day and to contact the Grand High Election Poo-bahs if they had an issue with the location. 8-)

We where there almost an hour after the polls closed helping to finish up the paperwork and break down all the equipment. 
It was a very long day but I feel good about the job we did to keep American democracy chugging along.
And I made a couple of new friends in the deal too! 8-)



  1. It sounds like a fun day - free entertainment and food - what could be better than that!

    Kim N.

  2. Good for you for helping our country out, Sluggy. My grandmother also used to work the polls. I wouldn't have the patience, myself.

  3. They should have given you a crown to indicate your status. I try to carry food everywhere. I worked the polls once. I don't remember much fun there.

  4. My mom would work the polls and they were held at her church. She never mentioned anyone complaining. The voter turn out in our county was exceptionally low, maybe 12%.

  5. I used to do it but have not for several years. It is fun and everyone needs to do it at least once.

  6. I applied last year to be a poll worker but never heard anything back. We live in a tiny place, I was voter number 34 at 4:00 pm. Even for presidential elections I doubt we crack 100. We had three council seats open, but apparently no one running as they all were “write-in” spaces. It’s sad but I know I wouldn’t want the job. And for the first time in my life, I FINALLY got a sticker lol. Also got some free entertainment as I sat in the parking lot and watched a squirrel running across power lines, jump into a tree and eat an apple. I’m easily amused. JoAnn

  7. Well there should have been donuts. I would vote for a donuts. I did this several years ago and it was a fun if not tiring experience.

  8. In Canada we got paid (we put our names in for hiring). I ended up with $270 after training and the election day. I am glad it went pretty smoothly for you! How long was your shift?

  9. I always thank the people that work the polls. It's a very important job. Thanks for your service!! :-)


Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment.
All Anonymous commentors will be deleted.
Please include your name in your comment, or choose the 'Name' option and put your name or whatever you call yourself, in the box. Thank you.

Though I moderate it's partly to keep trolls at bay but also partly so that I read every comment. I don't often respond to comments so if you need me to answer you please write me at my email addy posted on my "About Me" page, linked on the side bar.