Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Guestpost: Scenes From A Polling Place (Part 1)

[Ed.'s note - in honor of Election Day, a guestpost from the field:]

So there’s this guy in here talking to one of my precinct workers, asking her out on a date. He’s about 65, looks somewhat Asian, came in to do his civic duty, and obviously felt that we needed a little stimulation in here. He may be right on that one, its dead. 95 voters and its 1:45pm in the afternoon…civic responsibility in America? Only if you spend $900M in an election year to get it.

This all started several weeks ago when I got the hankering to be a precinct crew person. Over beers at our happy hour watering hole (Pyramid to those in the know), a friend mentioned overseas election placements, and said that getting involved in local elections was one way to start. Intrigued, I called up the Sacramento County Registrar and inquired about participating in the March 8th special election to replace Robert Matsui (CD5). Marlin, who answered the phone, said “Sure! We’re always looking for good people.” Gave him my info and thought nothing more about it, until the phone rang two weeks later.

Yup, it was Marlin, asking if I wanted to be a precinct inspector. You see, we had gotten to talking last time, and I sort of dropped that I worked in the State Capitol (read: responsible over achiever political person) and apparently it rubbed off. Not only was Marlin calling with a place to work, but asking me if I wanted to supervise my very own polling place! Of course I had to accept, what else could I do?

Now she’s showing him the scanner, our little doodad that scans every voted ballot and keeps track of it electronically. I still don’t think she going to say yes… he just dropped that he doesn’t have a job and he’s going to see the doctor…good one man. I think this guy needs some lessons…

So last Saturday I had to go in for 1 ½ hours of training and pick up my supplies. The preparation end of this deal is pretty sweet, they load everything in your trunk and off you go. You know that blue ballot box, the one you stuff absentee and provisional ballots into? Well, that had all my supplies, including paperwork, signs, voter reg cards, ballots, provisional ballots, etc. They also gave me 6 suitcases…the kind you see in the movies chained to some sinister looking guy’s wrist (the guy who’s going to get killed cause how else are they going to get the case)…which turn into the voting booths you see standing around. Sort of like transformers, the legs and lights and cords are all packed into them, and voila, 30 seconds later you have a voter booth. One of them is even shorter than the rest, for disabled people. What will we think of next?

- Guestblogger R.I.

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