September 25, 2006
A View from the Stacks: My Day of Civic Duty
I had seriously considered writing ANOTHER blog entry about podcasts this week. However, out of concern that I would soon be classified as a “one-trick pony”, I am departing from the usual discourse of podcasts and my CCH filing to highlight something a little different.
In an effort to make a few extra dollars this last week, I decided to work at a polling place near my house for the Washington State Primary Elections. The story I am about to tell is about overcoming the unthinkable: sitting in a Middle School Gymnasium for 16 hours with one magazine and sewing machine instruction book.
Despite attending one four-hour training session, I was not prepared for a day of aiding voters. I was not even prepared for a half-day of aiding voters. This, by the way, was not the trainer’s fault. For some reason, I thought that between individuals needing ballots and those individuals using the new Accessible-Voting Units, I would be busy enough to only get through my thick new issue of In Style (in all fairness, the magazine weighed about 50 lbs.) and maybe glance over the instruction booklet that went along with my sewing machine. Why I was reading this booklet is a story for another day but it involves nearly electrocuting myself.
When I showed up to the gymnasium, everything needed to set up for the day was set out and ready for assembly. But since it was 5:45 in the morning, some of us were still moving a little slow. By 7 AM, when the polls opened, we had just barely finished with all our set-up. We even had a line! I thought that this was a sign that turn out might be more than the 20% projected by some on the morning news and that we would be in for a busy day.
I worked at the provisional ballot table because I thought that would be the place that would stay the busiest. I have absolutely no idea why I assumed this, but for some reason, visions of hanging chads and angry voters made me shy away from the general ballot tables (full disclosure: the ballots used did not involve chads and that made me a little sad.) Plus, I leave my house all the time without my ID, so I figured that other people like me might try to vote and need a provisional ballot.
It was not a busy day. By 10:00 that night, we had not seen that many people. Like me, most of my precinct’s voters had probably mailed in their ballots the previous week. But, and in despite of my complaining, I am glad that I saw the process of voting from beginning to end. Especially since my lack of reading materials forced me to really read through my Poll Worker Manual and get acquainted with the laws surrounding Washington Elections. I was even able to transfer some of this new-found knowledge into an upcoming podcast script.
There is one thing though; you don’t get to keep the “Vote Here” button.
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle) and Beer Judge (BJCP)
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