I wanted to take a minute to talk about working the polls as a Republican supervisor yesterday.
First off, we were told during training that we had to be there at 4:40 instead of our normal 5 am. Considering that it was going to take me 30 minutes to get to my assigned work place, which meant getting up at 3:30, I almost quit right then and there.
But I didn’t.
I arrived shortly before the Democratic supervisor, and we entered the building together to start assembling the polling place. We used our check list and worked well together.
At 5:30, I looked outside and realized we had a line already. The polls don’t open until 6. I knew we were in for a long day.
What I didn’t realize was that having only 5 voting booths would cause us to be so slow that people would be waiting in line for 40 minutes to an hour.
Why did we only have 5 booths? I have no idea other than that every single machine was out of the election warehouse.
So what do you do when you have limited resources and people getting frustrated? You adapt and you do it as quickly as possible and as legally as possible. As a poll worker, you want everyone to vote and you want to help them do it as quickly as possible.
The important thing to remember is that we don’t have voting “machines” anymore. We have voting booths. It is literally a standing table that has a privacy shield around it. The first thing I did was to take the privacy shield that is supposed to be in use around the ADA machine and put it on a separate table to make a sixth “booth.” That helped pick up our speed minutely, and we continued that for another hour or so.
After we spoke with a very frustrated voter around 10 am, I informed him of that. Exactly what I just typed. That a booth is a table with a privacy shield. If he chose to not be concerned with privacy, he was welcome to use one of the chairs instead of waiting a booth, but I could not insure his privacy. I then made that offer to everyone else who came through.
We sat up 2 tables with 3 chairs at each table. We took the “secrecy envelopes” (which are literally just folders for people to walk their ballot from the booth to the ballot box) and placed them on the tables. We informed EVERYONE that they could choose that option or they could wait for a booth, that waiting for a booth was their right.
And our speed picked up from an hour wait to 15 minutes.
And through it all, there was no bickering, no fighting, no arguing, no tension.
The other interesting thing that happened, was that one of our e-judges, one of the workers that checks you in and makes sure you have proper identification, walked off the job around 10:45 or so. No idea why.
Working an election is always an interesting experience. For me, it’s a way to serve my country without joining the military. I enjoy doing it and have learned more about the voting system each and every time. I highly recommend everyone working at least one election in their lifetime.
And that’s my election day. 🙂
[eta: I forgot to add, Dale did the math for me, but we had right at 75% turnout at my poll. That’s amazing! But I wish it was at every election, not just presidential elections.]