Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wondering Wednesday: Working the Polls in New York

Yesterday, floods of voters hit the polls to vote in the Presidential Primary Race. In my election district, it really was a trickle with a disappointing number of voters simply refusing to show up. I worked as a chairman and found the experience stressful and challenging unlike previous experiences. I'm working hard to not hold onto emotions and stress so I am going to just dump it here today.

  • The stress of getting things prepared for my family the day before, coupled with the anxiety of getting up in time the next morning meant I did not sleep at all.
  • The day is long and demanding--starting at 4 a.m. to get ready and ending around 10 p.m.
  • My position included extra responsibilities of opening and closing the polls. If I do this again, I may ask to change positions.
  • The primary is really the only time you can ask another person whether they are a Democrat or Republican. Such a taboo question normally. It often caught the voters off guard when we asked them, but we had to ask because there are different ballots for each party.
  • I really irritated another poll worker who had worked my position several years in a row. I truly did not mean to upset her or step on her toes.
  • Many people simply did not know which party they had registered for. 
  • Some people refused to vote when they realized which party they were registered for.
  • Most people have no clue what to do when voting.
  • There were a lot of complications which meant I spent a lot of time making calls to the Board of Elections. 
  • We were required to call the BOE frequently to report numbers. Cell service in our polling place was patchy. I wish we could text the numbers.
  • The Democrat ballot in my county was really confusing and messed up.
  • There were lots of independent voters who thought they were registered Democrats. The BOE keeps records on changes and registration. 
  • It actually costs a lot of money to run an election. Our BOE requires two Democrats and two Republicans per voting district or table-sometimes they combine districts depending on the election. They pay a small fee to the polling places they rent. The machines cost money. The ballots cost money. Incidentally, because many people did not vote, all those ballots, and that money was wasted. 
  • Very few Democrats in my district voted. It was disappointing. 
  • We have to account for every single ballot given out--this includes spoiled ballots, emergency ballots, blank ballots (for the handicapped machine), and cast ballots. 
  • Every step of the process requires signatures by the poll workers--all to account for ballots and ensure that voter fraud isn't committed or that ballots aren't mishandled by poll-workers. 
  • One couple brought their dog into the polling place in a stroller. He was wearing a ball cap. When asked why he couldn't walk, they said he had cataracts. 
  • One bright spot to my day was seeing my oldest son. I was at the high school and he stopped by a few times to say hi. My husband also dropped by with our youngest daughter. Holding her was very soothing. 

I do feel better for writing this down. It was just a really long day that I am glad is over.


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