yesterday i had my poll worker training for upcoming june election. 2008 is a busy year, with three different elections in california. february was a statewide disaster, and the alameda county registrar of voters really seemed to have noticed. i noticed that the rules had changed somewhat, thanks to the secretary of state, but the acrov really improved the instructions so that we’ll have a better idea of what the rules are.
the thing is, most poll workers are still annoying and slow. i recognized a large portion of my class from my previous trainings- lots of regular berkeley types. older hippies/left wing radicals that still cling on to certain ideals but can’t pay attention to lots of things that matter- like what constitutes a provisional voter. the really frustrating thing is that many of these people think they know everything, and would constantly interrupt the instructors (who would of course point out that the person wasn’t correct). being right or wrong on election day is nerve-wracking. any mistake from the poll workers could hinder demcoracy. the inspector and judge are supposed to be the most competent people are the polling precinct, which sadly often isn’t the case. this is why i decided to become a poll worker (that and i hate the bottle neck of slow people working the street-index or signature roster). i was definitely the youngest person in the room.
one thing i took away from this is that the registrars of voters are in a tough position throughout california (and probably the rest of the country)- they have to follow the policies of the secretary of state, which are vague and not always practical. it’s sad, but i understand why the acrov people kept telling us to take our issues with the rules to the secretary of state- because they can’t do anything about it. i wish the secretary of state did a better job with voter education, but alas they make it as vague and confusing as most library applications. somebody lamented yesterday that voters don’t read the literature sent to them, but i can’t blame people for not reading long, dense, confusing packets giving them each possible option for voting. of course, the secretary of state’s webpage is terrible. way to promote voter literacy!
the funniest thing about the training was when we had to split into pairs to set up and take down the touch-screen and the scanner. my partner was a precinct coordinator from oakland who said, “you’re not too dumb for being from berkeley.” how’d she know i was from berkeley! “educated guess.” she then started insulting berkeley pollworkers for being soft and clueless, loud enough so that other people heard her. this milquetoast woman who looked like a librarian took offense and tried to talk about berkeley’s diversity, my parter laughed and told her to look around the room- all of the other precinct workers from berkeley, save for one, were white. i tried not to chuckle. one of the acrov workers said we were the most efficient pair, and let us leave early. the whole class went long though, and i was happy to go home and write an essay.
moral of the story- vote on june 3!