Wednesday, November 3

My Day As Election Worker

What a relief!
Now if the President will just change his cabinet significantly, especially the Defense Department....

I served as an election worker yesterday and what an experience! There were so many notable instances....we arrived at 5 a.m. and opened at 6 a.m. to a long line and managed to get all of them voted within the hour. Everyone was cheerful and friendly and only twice all day did we find someone who was obviously defensive and suspicious.

One dear lady was terribly intimidated by the voting machine. A friend had told her it was a difficult process that she would never understand, so when she finished her ballot and touched "cast your vote" and the card popped out of the machine, she couldn't realize it was so easy. "I must have done something wrong," she said. "My friend said it was complicated and I heard that on TV, too. Did I do something
wrong?" The machine gave a count of one more vote and when I asked her if she got an x in the little boxes when she touched the one by the candidates she preferred, she said "yes." I assured her that she had voted. She was amazed. "I won't be afraid next time," she said, proudly attaching her "I voted in Johnson County" sticker.

There were SO many young people! Many, many first time voters and to each and every one we thanked them and told them that they must never let anything keep them from voting in elections. They were proud and serious and downright noble.

Several people wanted to vote but they weren't in the right precinct. We told them they could go ahead and vote with a paper ballot but they had heard in the media that those votes might not be counted. (It would be so NICE if media personnel would research before they make incorrect statements.) We directed them to the proper polling places.

Our poll was in an elementary school and around mid-morning a teacher brought in her kindergarten class. She explained what the election workers were doing and showed them how people voted. My husband gave each child and "I voted" sticker when they left.

Later in the day a young mother brought in her small daughter (around 7 or 8 years old). She said she had already voted but her daughter wanted to see what an election was all about. Fortunately we weren't very crowded at that time and it was grand fun to describe and demonstrate the process to the wide-eyed and fascinated child. When I put her "I voted" sticker on her dress, I told her that she must study hard in school so she would know what was important and how to vote when she became 18. Her mother was most grateful and the child and I had a great time.

The most irate voter we had was a gentleman who had been given a royal runaround by someone who originally directed him to the wrong polling place. They sent him to another wrong place and he finally made his way to us -- where he did, indeed, belong. No one told him he could go ahead and vote at either place and by the time he found us he was enraged. He blew off quite a bit of steam, voted, and apologized as he left. I must say, I didn't blame him a bit.

As the day wore on fatigue began to set in and by the time we closed at 7 (we hadn't had a voter for 1/2 hour and we fear that was because there were no lights in the school parking lot)I wasn't sure I was going to make it standing up! I retrieved the signs from outdoors (the chill air awakened me)and helped close down the machines and suddenly the Big Day was over.

Looking at our local tally I thought Kerry had won, although President Bush had carried our district. Kerry did better than I'd thought he would.

After dinner in a local restaurant in which alcohol played an important part (rare for me), I wasn't up to staying up for the returns. So it was a delightful wake-up to the news that the President had won, and had won handily!

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