Yesterday I took off my Executive Pastor hat and put on my Election Inspector hat. It was my third time to work at the polls: in March we had the primary election, in April the run-off election, and yesterday a special election concerning an amendment to the Alabama constitution. I love learning and watching the voting process. It represents freedom and America at their best.
I ran for president myself twice—president of my junior class and president of my senior class, that is. (I won both times.) But I can certainly say that the elections I have participated in this year have been much more involved. Here are some random “insider” observations I find interesting.
- Preparation to be an Election Inspector includes attending an Election School (2.5 hours) and studying a 51-page manual.
- A day of working at the polls is a long day. You report for duty at 6 a.m. and drop the ballots off at the courthouse about 8:30 p.m., if all goes well.
- “Write-In Candidates” are pretty entertaining… Mickey Mouse, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, Donald Duck, George Washington. One woman writes in her husband’s name and he writes in her name every year.
- An “AutoMARK” terminal is available at each polling site to assist people with disabilities. For example, if a person is sight-impaired, the machine can enlarge the text on the ballot or even read it out loud to him/her through headphones. He/she can then mark the ballot using the Braille-labeled keypad. Or if a person has limb paralysis, he/she can mark the ballot by plugging in a “Sip-N-Puff” device (the voter blows on a straw to send inputs). How cool is that?
- When the polls close at 7 p.m., the work really begins for election workers. They must tediously organize tons of stuff into twelve envelopes and multiple bags/boxes. Items get stuck with precinct identification labels, “Record of Elections” tape, and “Voted Ballots” stickers. And every single item gets signed by all election workers. Finally the Election Inspector (that was me yesterday) takes everything to the courthouse to be turned in and checked for accuracy. Whew.
Our election system is a wondrous process. You still have time to register to vote and experience it for yourself on November 6th. See you at the polls!