election day

We had a primary election here on Tuesday, and just as with the general election last fall, I worked the polls, giving a long day to my civic responsibility.

The process, the location, and even some of the volunteers were the same this time as last, but I was still required to take refresher training (fine with me). We also had to wear masks again, and many of the voters did too. The one difference this year was that we didn’t have to get to the polling place at 5:30 in the morning; we could wait until 6:00! (Fortunately, the early hours were not a problem for me, and the location was literally blocks from my house.)

Since this was a local primary, the turnout was expected to be low. Our location was forecasted to have about 330 voters through during the day. When we opened the doors at 7:00, we already had a line of a half dozen people, but that was great since it gave we five volunteers a chance to warm up.

We had three ballot stations, where voters make their selections, but one of them died on us about halfway into the morning. That created a bottleneck in the flow of voters through the stations, but even when voters had to wait their turns, they were always congenial, and several commented about how pleased they were that people were voting in a minor election.

Officially, we were supposed to transition through the stations hourly. At the start table voters were found in the data base and given their ballot. They would then be escorted to the ballot stations to make their choices. And finally they would cast their ballots at the final station that collected them. After this, they got the coveted sticker and were on their way. The greeting table generally required two volunteers. The escorting step needed two but often only had one volunteer. And the final station had one volunteer to help get the ballots recorded properly. Plus, one of the five of us was supposed to float, being the experienced “boss” of the process. She would help us when we got confused and discussed issues the voters raised as they stepped through the process. (There was supposed to be a sixth volunteer, but she ghosted.)

We found through the day that few of us could stay strictly with our scheduled duty. Because we were short handed, we were often filling in wherever there was a gap in the process. Thus I might check someone in and give them their ballot then escort them to the ballot station, only to hustle back to the start to escort another voter or check in someone since that volunteer was escorting a voter. We were multitasking, and while I’m sure I got a good cardio work out, it did make the time pass quickly.

We had the expected rushes early in the morning, around lunch time, and then after 5:00, but throughout the day we pretty much had a constant flow of voters, including lines at the hours when we expected to be dead. We bounced between tasks and did out best to keep the voters happy.

By early afternoon we had exceeded our forecasted number of voters. By the end of the day we came close to doubling what had been expected for our location. (And early voting had been underway for a week before.) Everyone was pleased (and exhausted) by the turnout.

In the morning, 7:00 p.m. looked impossibly far away, but by closing time I wondered where all of the hours had gone. Packing up took less time than I expected, in large part because a new process had been established, and I was home in time to have a beer and watch a little television (still as inane as I remembered it to be).

I will volunteer for the general election in November, which will be my third, so I’ll be seasoned.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

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