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Working as an Election Day poll worker

November 9th, 2011 at 06:15 am



My day started at 4:30 am yesterday when the alarm clock went off. I raced around to get dressed, feed the cats and so on, and then was out the door to arrive at the middle school by 5:15 am.

There were about 15 of us running District 1 polling center. Four of us were assigned as "checkers." The voter lists are organized by street name, and they divided up the alphabeticized lists among us. The voters step up and you just locate them on the list, check their ID (almost always a driver's license), cross them off the list and hand them a ticket to proceed to the ballot clerk who gives them the ballot.

It was a long, 15-hour day. Polls were open from 6 am to 8 pm. The checker sitting to my left was a senior citizen who was very chatty and kept up a running dialogue with me for the entire day. He's a retired schoolteacher who's very active in town, from the book club to Lions Club to his church.

The checker to my right was a young gal who, i found out, is a schoolbus driver. The other checker was a senior who, like me, thought this might be fun to do. She brought a full crock pot of pasta fazool (not sure of spelling), which was my lunch and dinner. It was a hot meal. There was also fruit and croissants, tea and coffe, and 1 voter gave us all girl scout cookies, which i thought was very nice.

I was a little surprised that there weren't more unemployed people like me taking advantage of a chance to earn some money. There were just 2 other middle aged women working the polls, plus 1 gal in her 20s and 1 teen. The rest were seniors.

I personally checked in about 400 voters. I enjoyed seeing the faces of my fellow hometowners, from all walks of life, doing their patriotic duty. There was the president of the local savings bank. (Bankers are always the nicest dressed.) Some very handsome cops. (For their security, their names are listed on the very last page of the list, I guess so they don't have to show their ID or reveal their ID among the public. You point to their name and say is your name on this list. A little extreme, perhaps?)

A number of other well-to-do businesspeople,rushed or distracted, the hard-working folks with dirt under their fingernails and splattered paint on their blue jeans. The moms with kids in tow. The couple I saw walking in, holding hands. A number of teens who were voting for the very first time with a parent accompanying them! Smile The seniors...It all kind of warmed my heart. This was the face of my town, and I was very proud to be a part of it.

It was fun to greet and recognize neighbors, acquantances and others I knew in town. Truth be told, I never thought I knew that many in my town, but I guess there are a few. The husband of the woman I often see walking her beagles invited me to "stop in sometime." I was flattered that he remembered my name, and then I realized I was wearing a name tag. Smile Then, embarrasingly, the talky checker to my left was checking in my one next-door neighbor with whom I DON'T get along (lots of noise issues) and the checker, who knew i lived on the same street as that neighbor, said, Oh look, patientsaver, this could be one of your neighbors, and i kind of kept my head down and said, he IS my neighbor. We don't get along at all, so i didn't want the guy to make a comment or something. (He didn't.) I've never really spoken to him, but it's his wife and his son that i've had dealings with. I also said hello to the contractor who built my sunroom. I saw in the paper that his wife,just 44, unexpectedly died a few weeks ago. I heard him telling the checker next to me that her name should be taken off the list and in fact, it already had been removed. I felt really bad for him and wanted to say something, but this was not the time to do that.

There were a LOT of people (like 1 out of 6) who showed up at our location only to learn (becus they weren't on our lists) that they were in the wrong location and should be voting at another school. Some were a little upset about that and some just walked out the door without checking at the moderator's table where they were supposed to go; they probably weren't going to bother.

The problem is that the local newspaper indicated where voters in each district were to go to vote, but they didn't state which streets were in each district. So if you only vote once a year, or less often, it's easy to see how a lot of people don't remember or don't know which district they belong to. It was a major kink in the system and I made a point to tell the registrar in the hope they make sure it's spelled out better next time.

It was a gorgeous day outside, in the 60s, like spring in November. I did slip out to walk around the school twice. The VNA was doing flu shots next door, so on impulse i stepped inside becus there was no line. They assured me that if i gave my insurer info later (I didn't have the card with me) the shot would be free, no co-pay, so i went ahead and got the shot, which i hadn't been planning on doing this year due to cost.

I was a little surprised that, given that most of the volunteer poll workers were seniors, that they didn't do more to make the long day a little easier. It might have been helpful if they let us rotate shifts mid-way through the day. They did have 2 "floaters" whose job it was to sit in for anyone who needed a meal break or restroom break, but none of us ever let a floater sit in for us for more than 15 minutes or so.

Anyway, it's now filed under my "Interesting Life Experiences" file. I should get my $140 in a few weeks time, and that could pay pay for my electric, phone, Internet and water bill this month.

In other shocking news, I learned through The Author that my sometime handyman was arrested and briefly jailed for lack of bond. He went to the police station to complain about some sort of unrelated harrassment when the cop he was talking to in the parking lot noticed a rifle/firearm in his truck. It was loaded, my handyman was arrested for that and becus they found some pot in his possession as well.

Geez. Makes me a wee bit nervous about using the handyman again. He's always been super nice to me, but i know from our last conversation he's beenhaving some serious $ troubles due to owing the town $12K in back property taxes. He often seems depressed to me and always very serious. I don't think i can remember ever having seen him laugh. He's the one i wrote about earlier, always struggling for $. Yet he feeds and befriends feral cats who live in the woods near his cottage.

3 Responses to “Working as an Election Day poll worker”

  1. Shiela Says:

    Sounds like you had an interesting day.

  2. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Sounds like a long but good day. Smile

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    That's the sort of job I would love to do, sitting at the polls, but our county went to absentee ballot for everyone several years ago. I miss going to an actual polling place and I am sad that when my children turn eighteen, I'm not going to have the opportunity to take them in. I guess we'll sit down at the kitchen table instead. Actually I'm sad that my eldest was too young to remember when we did take her in. I remember going in with my mom and always thinking how cool it was.

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