Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Voting day...if you were lucky

So, I went to vote this morning, since it was Primary Day here in California.

I was at my polling place by a quarter after seven, walked in, announced my name like you're supposed to do...and was told that the roster wasn't there, that it had never been mailed to the precinct inspector (that's the person in charge of the polling place, a thankless job if there ever was one...ask me how I know). They told me that I could either vote a provisional ballot, go downtown to the elections department and vote there, or come back later.

Going downtown was out of the question. There are no parking places downtown that you don't have to pay for and, anyway, I was on my way to the job search seminar I'm taking part in this week and I would not have had time to go downtown, vote, and get back to my seminar on time. So, I said I would come back later, wished the poll workers well, and went home and had breakfast before I had to be at the seminar.

None of this made me happy. Well, finding that I had time for breakfast after all made me happy, but that's about it. There is no good reason I can think of for the roster not have been mailed to the inspector. Yeah, there are reasons - incompetence downtown, too few workers downtown in this era of budget cuts to get everything done that needed to be done before the election, the US mail losing the envelope with the roster and street indexes in it - but these are not good reasons. Incompetence is never a good reason. I know that budgets are tight, but an election is an important thing, and other things need to go by the wayside before getting necessary voting materials to the polling places on time gets dropped from the list of priorities. And, well, if he post office can lose a large, thick manila envelope containing official government documents, they really need to look at their efficiency.

There is just no excuse for something like this happening. I worked on precinct boards for years, often as the inspector, and while the rosters occasionally got to me just the day before the election, they were always there before Election Day. And even if the package did not arrive on the day before the election, the inspector should have been instructed to call downtown, and someone should have been waiting at the polling place when the workers arrived at 6 a.m. with a copy of the roster so that the all the materials would be in place when the polls opened at 7 a.m. Even if the registrar of voters had to deliver it herself.

Well, I went back to vote after I got out of my seminar at 4 p.m., and the roster was there. It had, according to one of the precinct workers, arrived shortly after I left the polling place in the morning. This is good. It isn't good enough. And this wasn't the poll workers' fault. They were nothing but polite and apologetic, both when I was there this morning and when I went back in to vote in the afternoon. In fact, when I was leaving after finally getting to vote, the Precinct Inspector thanked me for being so patient and understanding with them this morning. Apparently, not everyone was so understanding. I just told her that I'd been on the receiving end of too many irate voters during the years I worked at elections to inflict that on someone else.

And speaking of working on the election...I had applied to do so, but no one ever got back to me about it. I tried going downtown a couple of times to find out why I had not been contacted but, again, there was no parking to be had and I never got to talk to them about it. When I was talking to one of the workers at the polling place this morning, he said the same thing happened to him, and that he was only working because he aggressively pursued them about it. Then, this afternoon, he told me that I should probably go talk to them about it because, during the course of the day, eight or ten other people who had come in to vote reported that they had also applied but were never contacted. This seems very odd when the election department is always complaining that they never have enough precinct workers on election days. This must have been especially true if the elections department did as they claim and opened twice as many polling places throughout the county as they had in the last election.

I will be pursuing this issue with them. I needed the work.

So, that was my Election Day. If you live in a place that had a primary today, how did your Election Day go?

No comments: