Tuesday, September 05, 2006


It’s Tuesday morning and I have a little sticker on my shirt that looks like it says, I OTED. Actually it says, I VOTED, but the “V” is kind of funky looking and its color blends too much with other parts of the sticker.

Yep, we were at the polls when they opened this morning. Not because we were so eager, but to avoid what I hope will be a rush later today.

Sadly, the incompetence of the people working our voting precinct was once again quickly evident as we walked up to the table where we are given our ballots.

The lady handling the books in which our last name would appear was very very old and obviously nervous. There were two books of names in front of her. One book went from names beginning with A through names beginning with D. The next book went from E through H. She looked at my voting card and driver’s license and then proceeded to pick up the wrong book. She scanned every name in that book and then looked up at me very perplexed. I suggested that she might try the other book. Then she opened that book and instead of scanning until she got into the ball park where my name might be, she began reading each name on each page until she finally got to my name.

Bless her heart, she was just old and not really the person who could be doing this expeditiously. Meanwhile, the lady who was to man the little machine that you feed your ballot into after your vote, was running around yelling that she didn’t know how to use that machine or where to plug it in. She was demanding that someone stop what they were doing and show her what to do.

This experience today was about par for the course in my history of voting in my precinct. Last time I voted, the person who gives you your ballot was a man and he questioned why my maiden name is listed as my middle name on my drivers license. I had to convince him that that is the way the state of Florida printed it on my license. He continued to look at me as if I might be trying to pull a fast one on him.

Here’s how I believe a lot of voting precincts could be improved. Give high school, Jr. college or college students extra school credit for volunteering to work at the polls. Get the ones who are responsible and dependable. This could serve two purposes. I think it would improve the flow of voting and at the same time it might get these people interested in the politics of their community at a fairly young age.


Blogger fallenmonk said...

Pretty much the same experience here in Georgia though we are not voting today. I like the idea of using high school and college kids as we would surely get a little more "lucid" work. To be fair there were some young people working the polls last election though not too many.

September 05, 2006 6:02 AM  
Blogger BBC said...

We mail in our ballots here. And then they feed them into machines controled by the Gestapo. Or so I hear.

September 05, 2006 6:27 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Excellent idea! And in our area HS students are required to have a certain number of community service hours. I will be looking into this...

September 05, 2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger abhay k said...

Very innovative ideas!
thank you so much for your condolence message on my blog.

September 05, 2006 7:02 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Excellent suggestion about the volunteerism for voting work. I think I will make that suggestino to a university Dean friend today!

September 05, 2006 7:16 AM  
Blogger JM said...

Great idea; brilliantly simple, addressing several problems with a common sense approach. Too bad that our "leaders" (& I use that term loosely) can't step back and have that same clarity as they approach problems. Oh wait, I was assuming for a moment that they actually were addressing problems and issues; how crazy am I?

September 05, 2006 7:39 AM  
Blogger Chris Casey said...

PoP, what an absolutely brilliant idea! I am going to put that idea forward. What if we encouraged high school seniors to assist in the voting booths, and paid them for the day, as we do poll workers. I would allow 17 year olds. It could be part of their civics lessons in their senior year, even if they can't vote yet
What a good way to get them involved in voting!

September 05, 2006 7:40 AM  
Anonymous rebellious renee said...

PoP...forgive me...but I'm not going to agree with you. As you know from Crawford'slist....I worked at elections for 24 yrs...and I'm now only 52. First, you are correct that most poll workers are elderly....they are the only ones with the time on their hands (or in most cases, the only ones who will give it). There are some federal guidelines to all elections....2 of them being that you must be 18 to vote and 18 in order to work at the polls. Most high schoolers don't vote, don't follow what's going on, and don't give a crap....that's what you want to work at the polls?!! I want people who care, are willing to follow the laws, and are civic minded. It's not as easy to work an election as some of you obviously think....and it can be a pretty thankless job. After the 2000 election....lots of people started coming to the polls with an attitude of "you better not disenfranchise me" (shit...I bet they didn't even know what the word disenfranchise meant before then). I used to love working the polls, but no more. Sorry Pop, but this "you must be a fuck-up because you work for local government" stuff has gotten to me.
I'm glad I decided not to go up for reelection this past March.

And of course, there's always the fact that you aren't elderly and don't appear to work outside the home....why don't you work the polls?

Once again, sorry...you've pressed a hot button for me...

September 05, 2006 8:42 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 05, 2006 8:56 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

Good thing only 25% of registered voters are expected to vote in FL's primary-wouldn't want to overwhelm the poll workers. Don't know that I'd be comfy with HS grads here manning the polls - at least the octogenarians we have know their alphabet - which may be more than I can say for many of the HS grads.

September 05, 2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger DA said...

.ow .ad, .ut .ood .hinking .OP

September 05, 2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous rebellious renee said...

PoP...now that I've gotten my rant off my chest (smile)... one thing I do think that needs to be done about elections, is that we need a federal law making it illegal for any Secretary of State to also be running a candidate's campaign...

I couldn't believe it when I learned of Katherine Harris running bushie's campaign....what a 3rd world tactic...luckily it is a law in NH....but it needs to be federalized so that this never happens again in any state....

September 05, 2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous karena said...

Left long comment but blogger ate it. Who runs that outfit, Diebold?

September 05, 2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

I'm not sure about the teenage volunteer idea unless you limit the amount of time at the polls. I have children of my own and I've lived through the teenage years, but my experience working with teenagers at fundraisers, etc., was less than pleasant. They start off gung-ho and then they get bored an hour or so later and wander off not to be seen again!

September 05, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Not sure if it's better, but all our election staff here in Canada are paid for their work (not bad either - more than $100 for a day). They usually get a pretty good bunch of applicants, including students. They're all trained too.

It's not perfect, but it works pretty smoothly. There are no voting machines, only paper ballots and a system of hand-counting. We still get election results the same night.

September 05, 2006 1:04 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

I like your ideas! :)

September 05, 2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger Endorendil said...

Sorry you have to deal with this antiquated stuff. But having people that aren't interested enough to vote, run the voting machine is a bit like asking Republicans to monitor against the abuse of workers by corporations. Not a great idea.

A quick look beyond these impenetrable borders of the US (well, intellectually anyway) can show a better way. Parties can put up a list of candidates at the polls. Voters either vote for the party slate, or pick their choice for each position. Mix and match at your leisure. If there are enough "preference votes" for a candidate, they can get elected even if the party had someone else in mind. Use up-to-date technology to do the counting. Voila, you don't need primaries anymore.

Of course, you need proportional representation to make this really work. And dedication to democracy to the point that the government is willing to run its own elections. For real. And it helps to eliminate private campaign funds.

I'm sorry that the US has such an antiquated electoral system. I'm even more sorry that it matters to the rest of the world. The havoc some nutter (Harris) in Florida can wreck on the world is simply inconceivable....

September 05, 2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

P.O.P.: I had a very similar experience when I voted in the May election here in Ohio. I hyphenate my maiden name with my married name. Many married women do, but I was forced to give this guy at the polling booth an explanation on why exactly I did that... as if it were any of his damn business!... (my father has no sons, I love my Italian last name in this uber-white bread world, and my husband has one of THE most common Irish last names known to mankind). So, after I give his nosy ass my explanation, he continues to eyeball my driver's license as I stand at the correct table and this guy insists that I need to go to the other table (the table that has the letter of my husband's last name not my maiden name.) I explain to him that is not how Ohio does it if you hyphenate your name, and even present my Social Security card to prove it to him that how my name is on the SS card, it is also on the voting roll. Well..... 25 mins later (and keep in mind I have a then 3 yr old BabyGirl with me) he dares to "allow me to vote" when 2 women show him I am in the book and that he was wrong and I was right.
I'm with Gary... let's all adopt Canada's voting system.

September 05, 2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger colorado bob said...

Good one PoP...This could be just a drop in the bucket of national service.

September 05, 2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger azgoddess said...

yes i like your idea - let young people man the poles...

and for the record - i've had the same experince as you...but at least we got in to vote...some people in Ohio waited in the rain for hours and then were turned away....now that is incompetence!! or maybe deliberate???

September 05, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger Frederick said...

You mean these guys?

September 05, 2006 3:53 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Bless their little hearts. I voted, too only by absentee and the rest of the gang did the early vote thing. Even in absentee, they send you the little I Voted sticker. That's the only reason I vote, so I can have the sticker (infantile). Great idea on using the young ones. Like it. Like it a lot.

September 05, 2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

Glad to hear you oted today, PoP!

I guess absentee is the better way to go, even though I never feel like I've actually voted if I do it by mail. But I have had so many crazy & frustrating experiences at the polls, whether it's older or younger folks working them. I'm not sure about high schoolers, but I do like the idea of using college kids. It would be a great education in civic duty!

September 05, 2006 6:32 PM  
Blogger windspike said...

Or, how about two more suggestions - A) give everyone a holiday from work to ensure they vote, dock their pay if they don't? Okay, skip the dock the pay part. And B) if we can have corporate shareholders vote on line, why can't we vote in general elections the same way? Not to toot the horn of a particular organization, but I have voted via proxyvote dot com numerous times for company proxies for various publicly traded shares that I own. Seems to work there, why not transpose it for every day voters? Seems easy and painless.

Oh, and PS. My experience is, unfortuantely, very similar to your's PoP.

Blog on sister, blog on all.

September 05, 2006 7:37 PM  
Blogger dusty said...

At least your able to vote. We had over half our voting machines down when we had our primary. Imagine those poll workers having to deal with folks that wanted to vote and couldn't. Not to mention the disenfranchised voters who never did get to vote..

Here in Cali they pay and actually go begging for poll workers. I wouldn't mind doing it and if I wasn't laid up I probably would. I agree it might aid the involvement of younger voters to be part of the process. We all should give it a try perhaps..sometimes I think it should be made manditory that everyone votes.

September 05, 2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger The Fat Lady Sings said...

Honey - you have just described every voting experience I have ever had! Here in Georgia it’s just the worst. I have mobility problems; so standing in a 2 hour line wasn't happening for me. I had requested a mail-in ballot (which never arrived) so I had to actually go to the polling place. I wasn‘t gonna be denied voting – no matter what. I just would have liked it to be easier. And I’d love it if the state of Georgia got up off its ass and sent me my mail-in ballot!

September 05, 2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Sothis said...

Teens running the polls. I guess I find that a little scary. I've worked with teenage volunteers on projects and find that while some are great, most do it because they are forced to do so for school volunteer requirements or because their parents made them do it. They ended up causing more problems than giving help. Plus, aren't there any laws stating that you have to be at last 18 to work at the polls (I thought there was)? I like Gary's suggestion--actually pay these folks--and make the day a day off for everyone like they do here in Europe.

September 06, 2006 12:05 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

Same experiences with the geezers. It irritated me so badly that I started the absentee balloting. There should be a criteria that has to be followed when choosing the people behind the tables. Their hands shouldn't shake...they shouldn't have a hard time hearing or seeing things. They definitely should be on top of their game. When you have to stand there and show them who you are and where you are in the line-up...I think that is an indication that they don't have their walkers in good running order.

September 06, 2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

As early as I try to get here (now that I'm home) there are always two or three that beat me.

September 06, 2006 3:25 AM  
Blogger Human said...

So let's see, you don't like how it is run and you want to force others to solve the problem so you can vote in a timely manner?

How about requiring everybody who complains to register their complaint and then force them to do something about it?

I always thank the people who run the place when I vote. Yep they are always old. Lucky for us they are there.


September 06, 2006 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...


I don't know about Florida, but Washington poll workers are quite well paid. It would be a nice dash of income for students.

September 07, 2006 11:40 AM  

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