Re: Have you ever been a poll worker?

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Mon May 17 2004 - 14:19:56 CDT

On Sun, 16 May 2004 19:28:45 -0700 (PDT), steve.chessin@sun.com (Steve
Chessin) wrote:

> - Plan on taking Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004, off from work. Schedule
> it now as a vacation day.
> - Contact your county election official's office, and sign up as a poll
> worker for the November election. Take the training, and do it, the
> whole day.
> - If for some reason they reject you or can't use you, take the whole
> day off anyway. Show up at your polling place as an all-day
> observer. Be there when the poll workers have to arrive, watch them
> set up, watch them process voters the whole day, and watch them close
> the polls. (You're allowed to take a lunch break and other breaks,
> but don't take them during the busy lunch hour and after 5pm
> voting periods.)

Amen!

Note: In many jurisdictions, you can't be a pollworker unless you're
affiliated with a political party. The reason for this is that the
law requires the pollworkers to represent opposing political parties in
equal numbers. "Nonpartisan" pollworkers are not trusted, so they ask
the party leadership to vet the lists of potential pollworkers and
filter out those who aren't party loyalists.

The reason for this is that you need, for many procedures, pairs of
people who genuinely oppose each other politically in order to run a
trustworthy election. If their political allegiances aren't known
(for example, they're independents or recently registered to one or
the other party), then you can't be sure that the pair of people will
not conspire together to fix the election. If you know that one is
a died-in-the-wool right-wing Republican and the other is a committed
leftist Democrat, you're unlikely to find them agreeing on much of
anything, so working together, each will monitor the other.

Whether or not you agree with this logic, it's the law in many
jurisdictions. So, if you haven't already registered your partisan
bias, do so, and get active in partisan politics if you want to work
the polls officially. Anyone can observe, but even there, the
parties need observers, so volunteer as a partisan observer for the
party you favor.

Also, don't forget that pre-election testing is open to public
observation, and so is canvassing after the polls close. If you
don't have all day to spend as an observer or worker at a polling
place, consider spending all night and the next day observing the
procedures at canvassing and vote collection centers, or consider
spending a day observing the pre-election testing.

The integrity of the system really does rest on its openness, on the
public's right to observe, and this right is not exercised nearly as
frequently as it should be. Election administrators complain that,
as frequently as not, hardly anyone shows up for the pre-election
tests.
                        Doug Jones
                        jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:51 2004

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