Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Working at the polls

There are no pictures for this post. I'm just sharing my experience of working at the polls in California for the first time in my life. What an eye opener! In preparation, my husband and I, had to either take a 2 1/2 hour class or take instruction via the computer and then take a one hour class. The big day arrived and we got up around 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive at 6 a.m. for our shift that was to last until 10 p.m. There is a stipend for this 17 hour day which works out to $7.35 an hour. Not sure where I'll spend the money. There were 5 of us and we learned that the other three had done most of the set up. That was nice. There are special colored coded keys and an exact process to turning on the machines.

We each had an assigned position: find the registered voter on the list and have them sign, cross off their name from the street registry, hand out the ballots, trouble shoot and help people place the ballot in the scanner. Well, I chose the easy job of crossing off the street addresses and I was sure glad. First, even though it is posted on their sample ballots, people went to the wrong polling places and they weren't happy. A few were not registered. Some had Vote By Mail by their name and claimed to have never received their ballot. We somehow settled these problems. Oh, by the way, our California ballots are now published in three languages, English, Spanish and Chinese. After seeing my station, people went to my husband who was giving out the ballot that was printed on two pages. Since it's a primary, each party had their own ballot: Republican, Democrat, American Independent, Non Partisan, Green, Peace and Freedom, and Democrat non partisan. I hope that I have them all listed! The forms filled two long tables, plus a short table. Once the correct ballots were found, they were placed in a secrecy folder and handed to the voter.

Almost everyone handled the voting easily. But, some miss marked the ballot and had to have a replacement. All ballots, good or bad, had to be tracked. Once the voters selection was made, they proceeded to the electronic scanner and, with instruction, were told to place each of the two pages into the machine with the clipped corner on the right. Of course, many had the pages flipped or upside down. The machine would beep if things were not right. But, in the end, the count was accurate and all was well. Another aspect was that you can now vote by mail. I have no idea how many sent their ballots in, but 53% of the voters are registered to do that. IF you did not send it in, you could drop the sealed envelope in a ballot box. The polls closed at eight. All the voting booths which included a special electronic booth for the disabled, had to be broken down and placed in containers. All the ballots had to be sorted by "A" or "B" and counted. Oh glory, the number was right. There were plastic sleeves for the various small equipment and forms to be filled out.

We finished by 10 p.m. and were quite pleased by that time span. The chief Inspector and her husband carried the ballots to a central office. One person had to literally hold the ballots on their lap to guard them. We do care about your vote.

I only post this story so that you will thank all the workers who make the privilege of voting a reality. Many have done it for years, this was only once for us. So, the polling places are set up--let these efforts not be wasted, please vote in the next election!!

1 comment:

nanke's stuff said...

Good for you for doing that! I live in a tiny town and in think our poll workers have been there since the town was founded! Lol. Nancy