Working the polls

Yesterday’s post was by time delay — I was actually working as
a Warden at a polling place.

There were two new issues the poll workers had to deal with.
One was that there was a sticker campaign by a popular incumbant
City Councillor. Some of her opponents were particularly anxious
that the rules about no electioneering within 150 feet of the
polling place entrance and no election materials within the
polling place be enforced. The rules about what happens outside
are really the responsibility of the police officer assigned to
the polling place, so that didn’t really affect me much,
although I did hear several reports of the rule being violated.
But I did have to be especially diligent about checking the voting
booths from time to time to see if anyone had left flyers or,
worse, stickers, in the voting booths. And we did get a number
of questions from voters who wanted to know the name of the
person running the writein campaign, which of course we weren’t
able to tell them. The election commission had decided that the
ballots with writeins should go in an auxilliary ballot box,
rather than being counted by the scanner, so there were
questions about why a ballot is going into the funny looking
box, too.

The other issue was that the Election Commissioner who
supervises my polling place had decided not to rehire two
women who have worked there for a number of years. There’s an
article
about it in the Cambridge Chronicle.

The statement by one of the workers that there had never been
any problems wasn’t strictly true — she was someone who gets
crabby when she’s tired and makes unilateral (and
idiosyncratic) decisions about how
to do her job, and there had been complaints to this
commissioner both from the other workers and from voters. I
hadn’t been one of the people who complained, and my initial reaction
when the commissioner told me she hadn’t sent this person a card
was that I bet it was going to be more trouble not hiring her than
hiring her.

I didn’t see the person quoted in the article, but the other
worker does vote at my polling place, so when she came in to
vote on her lunch hour (both workers had ended up being hired at other polling places), we all told her we missed her. It was
true — this decision meant that there were two new people
working the checkin table, who had never worked a proportional
representation
election before. I’m sure we had at least
twice as many spoiled ballots as we used to when these two women
were working the checkin table, because they had worked out a
short explanation that at least warned people they had to think
about how to fill in the ballot and not just put X’s next to the
names of the people they wanted to vote for.

But the new people were both fun, and caught on pretty fast,
and the fact that we didn’t have to count the writeins meant
that the closing paperwork was much easier than usual.

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