Thursday, November 6, 2014

More Than a Vote

This year instead of just voting in the general election, I helped others to vote myself. A few months ago a friend of mine told me that they would be working at the primary election. In asking her what it would take for me to be able to do that too, I started the process to become an election inspector. 

After filling out a little bit of paper work and attending a hour orientation I was well on my way. I chose to work in the 1st ward and the polling location was at the Martin Luther King Center. 

When I arrived to work (at 6:30 am) I expected to help set a few things up and get a quick tutorial about what I would be doing from the more experienced election workers. I did help set up, but that quick tutorial never came. The polls were to open at 7:00 am and I still had no idea what to do. 

Right at 7:00 a good 15-20 people came flooding in. No one, experienced or novice, seemed to be in position to check-in the voters so I just sat down in front of the computer because no one else did. I pretty much taught myself how to look up a voter, issue them a ballot, and track their voter number. After the first 15 minutes or so, I was a pro. Trial by fire, that's what I always say. 

But if I were to have had advanced training this is what it would have said...

One person will sit in position one and direct voters in line to fill out an application to vote and to get out their photo ID. This small slip of paper is required by federal law for every person voting to fill out. It will serve as a paper record that you voted. 

Another person will sit in position two and work the computer. This person will scan the voters state issued photo ID to verify that the person is voting in the correct ward and precinct. They they click a button that will issue them a ballot. They call out the ballot number to the person next to them who verifies they are in fact getting that ballot. The person at the computer then initials and records the voters number. 

Person in position three will hand the voter the ballot in the privacy folder and slip their application to vote in the pocket on the front. They then will direct voters to the open voting booths. 

When the voter is finished voting they will stop and see person in position four. That person will tear off the tab on the top of the ballot and take the voters application to vote. The will instruct the voter to putting their ballot in the tabulator and to take an "I voted!" sticker. 

The fifth person working  is the chair of the precinct and should be pretty well versed in all positions and troubleshooting. They float and make sure everything is ready at all times. 

I won't even go into closing the polls because it was a lot of things I just watched happen. I was there from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm. A LONG DAY. I did get one hour for a lunch break and one hour for a dinner break. It was fun working with some new people and meeting new members of my community. If I had to do it again tomorrow I would respectfully decline. But perhaps next year I'll be back!