Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Election Day

Earlier this month I worked the polls for the first time in my life. I don't know how they do it in other states, but here the pollworkers are there all day long, 6am till 9pm or later. I was nervous about not knowing enough. I was nervous about spending the whole day with the other pollworkers that I didn't know. But I loved it! The other four women working that day were enjoyable to be with. We traded off jobs during the day so that sometimes I registered new voters and sometimes I handed out ballots and sometimes I checked-in voters. It was fun to see my neighbors come in and say a cheerful howdy to the folks from church who vote in our precinct.

Seeing what happens at the polls does make you wonder about the future of our country, though. People came in and wanted to vote for a particular candidate that wasn't on the ballot. "Why not? Why can't I vote for him?" The fact that he was running for an office that didn't represent their address seems pertinent to me....

Also, it was obvious that a lot of people don't understand what a primary is. In Wisconsin, there is ONE ballot on primary day. You don't tell anybody what party you're aligned with, so you don't request the Democrat ballot versus the Republican ballot versus the Libertarian ballot. Neither do we caucus. Here you are not obliged to choose your party until you're in the voting booth, and then you vote for candidates only in that party and submit your ballot. The voting machine will spit your ballot back at you if you voted for people in different parties. A stunning amount of people were ticked about that. They said they should be able to vote for whomever they wished, regardless of party. We explained that, in November, they could. But this is a primary; it's not voting for offices; a primary is the party's decision as to which candidates will represent the party. Uh... that wasn't understood. At all. Seems to me that all those who heartily disagree should be pressing the legislature for preferential voting.

There was a massive turnout for a primary -- about 43% of the registered voters. The age of voters, though, makes a person wonder who's going to be voting in 20-30 years. A disproportional amount of voters were past retirement age. There were a few young people but not many. This reminds me: now that Andrew's had his birthday, he needs to go to town hall and register to vote.

We don't know what was being said on talk radio on election day, but apparently there was a lot of discussion about same-day voter registration. Although you are not required to show proof of identity or residence when you go to vote [... waiting while all you folks from other states gasp loudly and say "Surely NOT!!!!" ...] many voters came in and insisted on pulling out their drivers license to show their identity. Several men throughout the day proffered their ID cards and said, "Just getting in practice for when we have to start doing this next spring" (anticipating a vast change in the power-balance, so that the election laws can be changed to decrease voter fraud).


  1. My husband and I worked the polls several times in college and early in our marriage. He has done it once or twice since then. It was always an interesting experience and the little check that came made it even better! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Working the polls for the past eight years has been a hugely interesting experience for me. Eye-opening, to say the least. Our voters have to declare a party in the primary, and many DO NOT LIKE THAT. I'm looking forward to the election in November. I'm anticipating a drastically lower turnout in the precinct I'm in charge of than we had in 2008.