08 June 2016

     Yesterday I worked at a polling place for the election. (I had done that for many years and then stopped when Mom moved back to California near the end of her life. She died at age 98 in Dec 2014, and I am now doing more things.)
     I had called Yolo County Elections to offer to drive things around or help in the central office -- because I had a doctor's appointment Tuesday morning and so had not applied to work on a poll. They called back and said they had had a cancellation and would I please be an inspector at the polling place in the City's Corp Yard (behind KDRT) -- even tho I'd have to be gone for a while, they still wanted me. So that's what I did.
     It was THE HARDEST DAY of pollworking I've ever had!
     First one of the judges (that's the title of 3 of the pollworkers) was out of the country and hadn't been replaced, so we were short from the get-go. Since I was only asked a few days before the election, I missed all of the training sessions. One judge had been a pollworker for years but the other had never done it before. We in Yolo County are very lucky to have FANTASTIC INSTRUCTION SHEETS for all the tasks, so we did just fine.
     Until, that is, the gas line broke and we were evacuated along with that entire building. Oh, my! Imagine having guys in orange shirts charge in the door calling "Get out! Get out!" and smelling gas strong enough to bring tears to your eyes. What could we do? What I did was to grab the ballot box and my purse and we walked outside together.
      The City staff was GREAT! By the time we had walked two building down, Sherry Hosking (who had also been evacuated from her office) had already found us a place to go (their conference room) and organized people in that building to clear things out an arrange tables for us to use as a polling place. Meanwhile, some of the guys in orange shirts had asked me what was essential to get (in case they couldn't get it all) and went back in to the original room and brought the things off the table -- roster, lists, blank ballots, markers -- and within 15 minutes we were able to let people vote again.
      I'm proud to say we did not turn away ANY voters; they just got evacuated with us and had to wait a bit. Pretty soon the fellows got everything else delivered and we were running close to normally.
     I don't know the names of those staff people but do appreciate them.
     The hardest part of working this election was dealing with all the non-standard voter situations. Usually there are a few folks who end up in the wrong place (often because they moved or didn't read their mail carefully) and need to be shown where they can vote; and sometimes people who don't register ahead of time (who cannot vote in this election); and a couple who lost their mail-in ballot and need to vote provisionally. In all primary elections there is extra work because (since the state lets the parties hold their party primaries along with the regular government elections) there are a great many different ballot types involved. THIS YEAR there were far more people who had asked for mail-in ballots [VBM] and then not used them. Some because they never got them and most because they were lost. Because of the possibility of someone voting twice (unless they surrender their VBM ballot), anyone needing a replacement had to fill out extra paperwork and use a 'provisional ballot' -- so that their name can be checked against the mail-in ballots before their vote gets added to the pool. (I haven't heard of anyone intentionally cheating like that in Yolo County, although I heard a rumor of an elderly person who forgot they had sent the first ballot and did come in and vote a second 'provisional' one -- which was caught in time.)
     We also had a number of voters who were not listed on the rolls at all. They also voted provisionally -- so that the Election office could look for their registration and find out what the problem was and fix it (if possible) or reject it if they voted twice or were ineligible.
     I talked to all of these folks and tried to find out when/where they had registered; many had filled out paper applications at some rally and given them to some person (instead of mailing them in themselves) and so it is likely a portion of those were never turned in to the County or were submitted late. [This happens every election cycle; some registration-gatherers are more responsible than others. In my opinion, it's always best to register directly with the County Elections Office or at a polling place or mail things in.]
     Some also made changes or applied online. One said she had sent a change of address from the Post Office and so thought she should be listed.

     I did a lot more than usual talking with folks and solving problems; we had a fairly constant stream of voters but no long lines; and we did LOTS of extra paperwork. By the end of the night (10pm), my back hurt and my brain was very tired. I'm recovered now, but I'm not sure if I'll volunteer next fall.
      We'll see.
     Hope you-all are doing okay.

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