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« On not seeing (or hearing) a major candidate in person, part 2 of 2 | Main | On using things up, and Halloween, plus continued training to be an election judge »

October 29, 2008


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Marcia Ford

Deb, thanks so much for this detailed and helpful post. I went through poll monitor training the other night, and even though I keep up-to-date on voting problems, it was still eye-opening. I wish I shared your optimism about the process. I applaud Denver (I assume that's where you are) for opening vote centers -- jurisdictions that make it easier for people to vote rather than harder seem to be a rarity. Enjoy your very long day on Tuesday! I wish I had the stamina to be an election judge...

~~Marcia Ford, author of "We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter"


Thanks for the detailed posting on your training and the procedures you're working with. I think we need more election officials sharing this kind of information: the more transparency we have, the more people can have greater assurance that their votes are indeed properly recorded. In the past few elections, with all of the concerns and publicity about poll problems, it's all been organizational spokespeople and state election division officials making Official Statements; election judges have been invisible, and yet they are the ones who directly work with those concerned voters. I think we as judges have a chance to help people understand what to expect at the polls (they are surprisingly intimidating to so many people) and I think that voters are reassured to know that we have orderly and exacting procedures for handling their voting.

One tip for you on that long workday: don't plan on being worth much the following day. It's not so much physically stressful at the time, but being "on" all those many hours, especially with the demanding closing out procedures at the end when you're the very tiredest, is a mental drain. I find that asking myself to perform intellectually demanding tasks the next day is a waste of effort, so once I've finished wrapping up election responsibilities (we have to ship all of our materials and machines out the next day because we're not on a road system), I plan on outdoor exercise, cleaning the house...whatever can be accomplished by a body on semi-autopilot while my brain sits quietly in the back of my skull and recharges.

Deborah Robson

Marcia, I'm in Larimer County, about an hour north of Denver. http://www.larimer.org/elections/ I just checked the status of my mail-in ballot: completed ballot has been received.

Savannah, thanks for the tips. The day after is already reserved for lunch with friends, a mid-afternoon call with my new business coach, and an evening pre-birthday celebration with friends. I figured low-key would be good, and planned things I would like to do that would not require me to be at my desk trying to make software function correctly.

Linda Cunningham

I'll second Savannah's comments: I made the mistake of volunteering for our local literary festival the three days after our election, and I was pretty useless on the first one.

The best suggestion made to me the first year I worked was to take along more water than you might think you'll need -- talking to people can be very dehydrating, and that will poop you out faster than anything at the end of the day.

This year, I made certain to have a nice cup of tea left in my thermos for when polls closed, and it was exactly what I needed.

Interesting to read your account and compare it to our Canadian election process. The place I supervised had six polls (each with a Deputy Returning Officer and a Poll Clerk), with an Information Officer and a Registration Clerk.

Each poll had 400 (give or take) registered voters, and the ones with a higher proportion of apartments had a fair number of registrants on voting day.

Turnout was just over half, which was quite depressing, although it was the voting place of our Member of Parliament and the captain of the NHL team. All six polls were counted before 9.

After all the other paperwork was done and everyone else released, I was responsible to take all the ballot boxes back to the riding office and do clean-up. Was sure glad to see a cold alcoholic beverage in the fridge when we got home at 10:30. :-)

Alyce Barry

I think provisional ballots must have been around longer than that, because I remember them from the election of 2004. That was my first experience as an election judge, and there was already a very detailed section on provisional ballots in the manual, so I'm guessing they came in a while ago. In 2006, I was a supply judge, who is the election judge who brings some of the supplies needed, including (at that time) the electronic voting machine. This year I'll be a supply judge again, and this year some of the heavier equipment is being delivered ahead of time to the polling place and stored there in a locked closet.

Deborah Robson

Thanks, Alyce. Modification in main post.

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