For whatever reason, I never got around to writing about the Feb. 5th primary. I guess I’ve had enough time to cool off, so I can write about it a bit more even-handedly than if I wrote this on election night. I had to get up at 5:15 a.m., which I think entitles me to $100 right there.
Things went fairly well until about 4pm. Setup was fine, and we processed voters without much difficulty, though we had more provisional voters than I expected. Fortunately we had enough clerks that someone could take them over to another table to fill out the envelope so other voters could just vote.
About 4 p.m. I realized we had been going through the Democratic ballots at a pretty rapid pace, so I called up the county hotline and said ‘send us 50 more ballots.’ About an hour later they arrived, but they were photocopies of a sample ballot, so we couldn’t give anyone the tear-off receipt. We used up the main pile of English/Spanish, then went through the Vietnamese, Tagalog and Chinese, and then started on the photocopied versions. It then took us about 8 voters later to notice that they sent us the wrong ballots! Someone said ‘where’s the Cupertino city council race?’ and I saw that instead we were sent a ballot for the Democrats, state issues and East San Jose Union schools.
After another phone call we were then told, ‘okay, use your non-partisan ballots and then tell people to write in who they want for the Democratic nominee’, which we all thought was nuts, but that’s the order we got.
Finally, the field inspector came around 6:30 p.m. or so and brought more of the right photocopied ballots, and said, ‘hmph, if you called me first I would have told you to use the e-voting machine, since that gives you an infinite supply of ballots!’
Gaahhhh! Well, yes, that makes sense now, but a week earlier we were told that we really don’t want to let people use them — unless they insisted. So, which is it?
If it had been a closer election I think I would have been more upset about what happened, but that doesn’t change the fact that there has to be a better way to do this. Maybe the general election will go smoother, since each polling place will only need one kind of ballot instead of the 28 different ballots we needed for this primary.
All complaining aside, however, I will say that I worked with an excellent crew of volunteers who had all been election officers before, and that their experience certainly made it much easier for me to do my job as precinct inspector. I think I will do it again in June and November; it remains to be seen whether I can spare the time when the election comes.