Learning to be a bureaucrat

27 01 2008

I had my official hands-on poll worker training yesterday, and I have to say, I was impressed. I would guess that well over half of the 50 or so people there volunteered in a previous election and were mainly interested in what is changing this time around. We had a brief presentation that talked about changes and took questions from the audience, and then we split up into 5 groups. There, another trainer walked us through setup, processing voters, and closing down the polls.

I’m feeling pretty confident after the training, though I found installing the tamper-proof seals tricky. Some people seemed surprised that I was a precinct inspector even though I hadn’t worked in a poll before. I admit to being a bit nervous about it, but the manuals we all received are done extremely well, and give you lots of checklists to follow, so I’m not too concerned about it. The hard part will be dealing with the problems that might crop up during the day.

After reviewing all of the material, I’m going to think differently whenever I hear someone go on about how we need to change some aspect of how we vote. So much of what has to be done is in response to some concern the public has had about the way we vote, but instead of making it more secure or less prone to fraud, it adds to the complexity, and more importantly, I think, discourages people from volunteering to be a precinct officer. Election day in California runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, but the precinct officers need to be there at 6 a.m., and have to stay until about 9:30 p.m. to count ballots and shut things down. Combine that with the pre-election tasks and you have a lot of work.

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