As you all recall, during the Presidential election, I worked the polls and I kept a journal for the day. I am working the polls again today, and back by popular demand are Tales of the Beleaguered Poll Worker.
Let me start by saying that getting up at 5:15 am in order to be at the polls by 6:15 is NOT my cup of tea. So remember that when you turn up at the polls at 7 am. Remember that to make that happen, some poor non-morning person like me had rise before the sun. And on top of it all, I have to smile at you when you come in.
Is morning, so none of our signs for the outdoors would stick to anything. That was laughs, tromping around in the rain trying to clear the area of all election signs and to get polling place signs up. Then we turned on the nifty new voting machines and things got humming. My county is all touch screens now. You can still opt out and do a paper ballot. This option will end in a couple election cycles.
We are NOT using Debold systems. We actually have a nice system that does render a paper back up copy. Our machines have printers attached and once a person is ready, they can hit a button on the screen to print. They can review the ballot on paper and then hit the official "Cast your Vote" button. We have the print offs locked in the printer so that we can do hand counts should that be necessary. Reception to the machines has been good. People think they are fun. They like them better than the old punch cards. Even elderly folks have had little or no trouble using the machines. Of course, one concern is that they don't walk away with a receipt. But once we explain how things work, the are OK with it. The voting goes fast, and there are fewer lines, less activity, and less worry. My precinct has 5-6 machines, and we have had no problems, except with our Precinct inspector, a.k.a, Nurse Ratchet . Nurse Ratchet is a former Kindergarten teacher and veteran poll worker who asks anyone under 40 if they ere her students and who thinks her authority is undermined by the machines and us.
She is a control freak, threatened by anyone who might actually know something about procedure, overly stressed out, totally lacking in humor, and universally disliked by myself and my two other poll workers. We have managed, however, to over power her while she sits there passively aggressive and seething to herself. My goal is to stay clinically detached and pleasant to all.
Nurse Ratchet's biggest obsession, other than making sure the "I voted" stickers are lined up evenly along the edge of the table, is provisional ballots. She acts like issuing a provisional ballot is a crisis waiting to happen. Yet last elections, we issued many of them because we were told that we had to let people vote. But in the last election, there was only one ballot. In this election, the ballots are all different depending on what district you are from. There are different measures on this ballot. It is irritating. And it makes Ratchet edgy. So lesson number one for the county elections board is never let former Kindergarten teachers be poll inspectors. If they are scared of computers, don't let them be poll inspectors. It really goes to their heads. So all morning, it has been a quiet battle to get people their provisional ballots when they need them.
Eric is my fellow poll worker. He is a funny guy, confident, and making us laugh about conflicts with his cancer medications. Julie worked with me before and I found her rude. I still find her rude, but since we are all unified against Nurse Ratchet, I can bear her.
So this is where it stands at lunch. We have had no problems with the machines, a steady stream of voters, and a wicked poll inspector. Stay tuned.