By Glenda Price: CNJ columnist
I served as a poll worker on last year’s election day and again last week. Last year, of course, we were voting for president and a bunch of other offices and initiatives. Last week was strictly local.
We had to be at the polling place at 6 a.m. to get ready for the 7 a.m. opening of the polls. That wasn’t easy for me, a notorious morning slowpoke, but I made it.
Our local election was at an elementary school, in a busy hallway. We put “Vote Here” signs outside and sample ballots beside the registered voter lists.
We told the teachers and the librarian we would be glad for the children to stop and ask questions about what we were doing, etc. Our presiding judge spoke to one of the children as they passed by, then afterwards laughingly said, “I asked one of the fourth-graders if he’d like to vote when he got older and he whispered, “We can’t talk.”
The librarian had her fifth-grade children stop and ask questions. We loved the opportunity to explain what was going on, and the kids caught on fast. They all yelled, “Yes,” when the librarian asked, “Would you vote for your librarian for mayor?”
We poll workers were required to attend a two-hour training session the week before election day. Also, we were given a comprehensive instruction manual explaining the procedure, the machines, etc. Even so, at last week’s election one member of our four-person team of poll workers showed up missing a few checkmarks in the ballot box in his head.
We caught on quickly, of course, and the presiding judge placed our “compromised” worker beside the machine where all he had to do was take the voter’s registration slip and stay out of the way.
Paper ballots were marked, then inserted into the machine (by the voter). The machine counted the votes, so modern technology made our job easy.
As I looked the general election ballots over last fall, I remembered my first time to vote and my surprise at seeing candidates representing several parties besides Democrats and Republicans.
A cowboy friend ruefully admitted that his first time to vote he signed in, pulled a lever, walked out. Two hours later he realized he’d voted straight Communist.
Last fall a number of young people walked up to me and asked, “Where do I put this ballot? I’m only voting for president — none of that other junk.”
Interesting. Last week an older voter said, “The local elections are the ones where you can really make a difference.”
The registered voter list (requiring a signature) is in alphabetical order, so if a voter is in fact registered in that precinct or district the name is easily found.
The memorable “comment of the day” last week came from a lady voter who noticed her name came before her husband’s on the list.
“I’m above him,” she said with a smile. “That’s as it should be.” He, standing beside her, was a good sport about it.