Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Working at the Polls
Yesterday, I served as an election officer at my precinct. We had about 1100 people vote over the course of the day. About 850 voted for Webb, the rest for Allen, which gives you an idea of the demographics in my precinct.

Our precinct house is a rundown recreation center. During previous elections, we were in a spacious room. This time, we were in a very small, windowless room, with a posted capacity of 30 people (which, presumably, didn't take into account that the room had to hold four election machines and four long tables). This made for some long lines, which led to some cranky people, especially in the early morning. I suggested to my precinct chief that I could lighten the mood by walking down the line, instructing everyone to remove their shoes and put them in the gray bins, and to make sure that they weren't carrying more than three ounces of lotion. He didn't think that was a great idea.

Those crankiest about the long lines were primarily people in their 20s, who were all late for very important meetings, and who thought that it was inconceiveable that they should have to stand in line for a whole hour in order to vote. Democracy is not always so convenient, youngsters... I cheered myself up by imagining that all these people were Rick Santorum staffers, who were in a hurry to get to work and start looking for new jobs.

Once everyone progressed far enough in line to get to the voting room, it was necessary for most of them to ask us why we were in the smaller room instead of the usual larger room. We didn't know, of course, but after a while I started telling people that Bush and Cheney had bin Laden stashed in the larger room, and that they hadn't realized that they needed to pull the trigger on their November surprise before the election.

There were some nice moments. There were several first-time voters, mostly non-English speakers. One such woman had to get her husband to help her with the voting (perfectly acceptable, her husband just had to fill out a form, which he did graciously), which was nice, until the dork in the booth next to them asked for a form so that he could file an official complaint about it. (This was a guy who seemed like his voting experience was his first interaction with humans since the last Star Wars movie was in the theaters.) There are a lot of elderly people in our district, and they were all very nice and cool, in contrast to the people that I hoped worked for Santorum.

One of my fellow election officials drank two Red Bulls and ate four doughnuts before 7:00AM, and then spent the rest of the day munching on chocolate covered coffee beans and complaining about how she was "feeling weird." I could have done without that, but, otherwise, things went pretty well. Due to the room situation (I don't know if you heard, but voting was done in a smaller room this year), there were few chairs, so I stood from 5:00AM until 9:00PM. Literally. There were times that I could have sat, but after a couple of hours I figured I'd see what kind of an effect standing for that long would have. My feet were a little sore, but I feel fine today. And if I'm ever in Survivor, I'll know that I can win any challenges that involved standing in a cramped room filled with voters, including an assortment of Rick Santorum staffers and Star Wars dorks, for 16 hours.


cleavers44 said...

I was kinda surprised that there were only 5 or 6 people in line at the polls at Kenmore - probably because I was there at 6:15am. Kenmore just doesn't seem right without the old dude who sells softball equipment, or people asking Ed Robinson stupid questions about the "grace period" or what constitutes "like colored" jerseys.

tadcranky said...

That's funny.

I was shocked that there were 10 people in line at 6:00AM at our place. It picked up fast after that, though.