Thursday, April 04, 2013

Poll Worker Notes

Tuesday was Municipal Elections in Anchorage  By the time elections ended at 8pm, we'd already started closing down the polling place.  Some of the Vote Here signs were brought in.  We started counting the people on the register who'd voted.  Putting furniture back the way it had been. (We took pictures the day before. :) ) There were three people who'd been working since 6:15 am and two others who came about 1pm.  We did a lot of stuff reasonably well, but there were some problems too. 

I was counting the people in the register who'd voted.  They'd been marked with a
Roster smudged to hide identifiers
highlighter so it was fairly easy to count and a subtotal on each page.  But my total was one more than the votes counted on the voting machine and 9 less than the number of ballots we'd given out.  There had been 10 questioned ballots so the voting machine and the ballot stub numbers matched, but I was one off.  That got resolved when the chair remembered that a worker had marked the wrong name in the morning and then had marked the right name.  So there was one extra bright yellow highlighted name and that had been marked.  It took us a couple more runs to find where that was marked.  So that was ok.

But then they were missing something they called the memory card envelope that was supposed to hold the computer printout tapes we'd all signed..  We tore everything open and then closed everything back up looking for it.  The chair swore it had been right there.  Someone found a clear plastic envelope/bag and proposed putting the computer tapes in there instead.  We didn't know where the bag had come from and whether it belonged to the church that was hosting the polling place or what.  But we couldn't find the one we needed so it was stuck in this new clear plastic bag with green on it.

One of the workers who was still there is older and has had back and neck surgery and was clearly tired.  (Actually, most of us were older.)  But she knew what she was doing and was acting as the co-chair.  We carried stuff to the chair's car while the chair was calculating the time sheet for all the workers.  (Yes, I had a paying job!)  There was a drop from the church floor out to the parking lot that wasn't marked and J stumbled and fell to the ground and had to rest a few minutes before she had the strength to get up with my help.  She and the chair had all the stuff in the car and drove off to City Hall to drop it off.  We were only two block from City Hall and I debated if I should walk or drive.  I drove but it turned out the parking lot was jammed and so I went back and parked near the church and walked back.
You can see a video of this in yesterday's post

The Chair and J were finally near the door and unloading everything at the end of the line of people and I helped at that point.  The Chair left to park her car and I stayed with J.  It was clear to me she was really tired and I suggested I drive her back to her car and send her home and I'd stay with the Chair.  But when the Chair got back before I could say anything, she asked if I could stay and help.  I said yes, because that's what I intended to do, but then the Chair said she had a 7am flight and would leave me and J to finish up.  J agreed over my protest and the Chair said good bye and left.

Someone brought us a cart to put the boxes and bags on and we waited in line in the chilly, but not too cold night.  Soon they were ushering the line inside the building and at least had the line where it was warmer.  They also passed out water and candy and later vegies - and assured us this was not from taxpayer dollars. 

Eventually we got to two folks who took our stuff.  They had a checklist they were working through.  The voting machine, the sealed memory card in the machine, the ballots, the questioned ballots, etc.  J was concerned about the envelope that held the printed out tapes from the voting machine.  But it turned out the plastic bag/envelope we found to put them in was actually what they were supposed to be in.  Our red bag - with the questioned ballots (we didn't have any special needs) - didn't have a zip tie, but they put one on.   I know that no one tampered with them, but still . . .  it should have been sealed. 

J and I had been there since 6:15am and it was pushing 10:30pm.  We had some questions about the time sheets for the poll workers.  Our chair had put 8 hours down as the total for everyone as ST (Straight Time, I think) and all the rest was OT (overtime.)  But that didn't make sense to me.  I thought there shouldn't be overtime unless you worked 8 hours in one day.  They told me my way of calculating was correct. 

We were finally done.  I got my car and came back to pick up J and drive her to her car.  I thought about going to election central across the street at the Dena'ina Center, but I was just too tired and went home. 


  1. Thanks to you and J for doing this.

  2. We had similar experiences at our polling place as you did. Couldn't figure out where or what the memory card envelope was, saw the plastic bag, but it wasn't marked, so we used the "security bag" -the one with the security ties. :) We couldn't get our totals to match either, so we kept counting and re-counting, and finally decided just to stop, since it was already 10:30. When we got downtown, it was 11:00. I guess we missed all the goodies, but by that time and after a long day, just seeing City Hall, was a feast for my eyes.


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