Friday, November 5, 2010

Day #25 Do you ever thank your poll workers?

"Busy as a bee" took on a new meaning last Tuesday, when I volunteered as an elections official. This is the third election I've worked. In the same way that most people don't know what goes on inside a beehive, I think most people never think about what it takes to facilitate an election.

Each election starts (for the poll worker) several months in advance. The person who is in charge of the precinct has to get her team together, and then be sure that they're trained properly. In my case, Juanita (our precinct leader) let me know when the special training sessions were held. Then it was up to me to attend one. I had to reschedule my chiropractic appointment so I could attend on a Friday morning. I had to go Friday because I was scheduled for a book signing on that particular Saturday.

Then there was the online training, which took several hours. We had to pass a test after we went through the training in order to be eligible to work the polls. Whew!

The Monday evening before an election, all the poll workers congregate at the precinct to set up the voting machines, be sure all the crates and boxes and files and folders are present and accounted for, and arrange the tables in a way that makes the flow of traffic simple and easy to understand. Sometimes this works better than other times. this year, for instance, we received a "suggested layout" from the elections office. The end result was that when voters began to bunch up, as happened quite often on Tuesday, I got to play traffic-coordinator. I felt like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. You can go this way, or you can go that way...

Monday night, we all set our alarm clocks ("set two so you'll be sure to get up on time!" say the instructions) at a ridiculously early hour. Tuesday we have to be in the precinct by six o'clock so we can be sworn in (raise your right hand...), post all the outside signs, and set up all the last-minute equipment. Then, we have to stay there until everything is packed up at the end of the day. In our case it was nine p.m. we had a running competition going as to how many voters our precinct would process in the twelve-hour period. About ten a.m. I guessed we'd have 1,141. The final tally was 1,146. Yeah! I won!

Sitting in a molded plastic school chair or standing on a gym floor (there are no other choices) for fourteen hours gives job security to chiropractors. The good news, though, was that even though we stayed busy as the proverbial bees all day long, we also got a chance to say hello to some of the most responsible people in this nation - those who choose to vote. And don't get me wrong. We DID get breaks - so we could go stand in the linoleum-floored break room and eat from the great pot-luck goodies that we all brought in.

Today, my feet are still as sore as a bee's wings. I think. When I get my bees in the spring, I'll have to ask them how they feel after a long hard day of foraging.

BEEattitude for Day # 25:
       Blessed are those who vote, for they shall have the right to complain. 

One thing I’m grateful for right now:
       The one and only person last Tuesday who said, "Thank you for working here at the polls." 

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