Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Last night I had an interesting experience

I went to a training to volunteer to be a poll worker during the local elections.
When I drove up to the parking lot, there were literally dozens of senior citizens headed for the entrance to the community center where the training was held. I wondered if there was something else going on, but nope! They were all heading to the same meeting that I was. At least 90% of the folks in that room were over 70. I was surprised. I was MORE surprised when I learned that if you work an election, you work the WHOLE day. From about 5:30 in the morning until 9:30-10 at night you are there. That's a long day for anyone!

The first guy to speak immediately said he needed to eat a cookie and went outside and did so, before starting the meeting 10 minutes late. Not an auspicious beginning. Then he went over the voting machine. How to "turn" it on. How to fix things when they get screwed up. How many parties the state of New York recognizes and what color their cards are (I have lived in this state for 10 years now and I have NEVER gotten a piece of colored paper in a primary, but maybe that's an Erie county thing). The whole thing wasn't particularly complex, but there was a lot of information and the new County Executive, in his penny pinching wisdom decided to stop printing the poll workers instruction booklet, which had been the norm previously. Don't think I'm not writing him a letter about that!!! What a dopey thing to save money on!

After 2 hours of this (some folks asked a lot of questions over and over and over again and some folks wanted to argue about the answers to these questions. Sigh.) Another woman stood up and showed us how to work a second machine that was mandated by Federal law 4years ago, but NY is just now getting around to putting in the polling places around the state. It is supposed to make it easier for handicapped folks to mark a ballot. NOTE it does not VOTE it marks a paper ballot. Except for, perhaps the earphones that blind or illiterate people can use to hear instructions etc read to them, this is a multi-million dollar piece of work that serves no other purpose then to make some idiot in DC feel better about him/herself because they made it easier for the disabled to vote. NO THEY DIDN'T! They made it easier for things to get screwed up!

ANYWAY, after this they actually made us take a test over what they had just talked about. It was kind of weird. Some of these folks attending this meeting had been poll workers for YEARS and had never take a test before. My question is, if the information is so vital why in heck don't you PRINT IT ALL OUT AND GIVE IT TO EVERYONE TO STUDY? But no.

They were running an hour behind by this time and I had to take my test and run. My Benjaman started his first real job yesterday and I was supposed to pick him up at 9 and it was already 9:15! Not to mention the fact that when Jimmy had finished football practice, he walked over to the community center to catch a ride home with me and had been waiting in the van for 45 minutes.

I know they mean well. And I think it's important to get involved in one's community, but holy moley! These folks don't make it easy to "volunteer". Now I have to wait and see if I get to work the election or not. The lady next to me said they had probably already chosen for the primaries (Sept. 6 here) but not yet for the General election in November. I hope I get chosen. It will be interesting to see how these things work from the other side of the ballot box!


Sandy's Place said...

As a former election poll watcher and judge, you will do it this once time. It is a long day, and you don't leave until all the votes from the machines are certified. The last election I did, I didn't leave until after 11pm. Oh, did they tell you about bringing your lunch/dinner since you can't leave the building???? And nature calls are done in turns???? Have a happy voter experience!!!

Joe Pollhein, Sr. said...

Somtimes it sucks to serve others, but I'm proud of you!