Election Day Blues

I insist on dinner and beer. Possibly dinner and two beers. We shall see.

I just got off Election Judge duty.

Election judges, for those of you yet unaware, are the staff who run your polling places. They do get paid, but it’s more of an honorarium than a salary. Best to think of it as volunteering. They attend three or four hours of training in the weeks leading up to the election. Those of ’em running the eSlate machines attend an extra four-hour class in how to do so. And one person per polling place is the Supply Judge, which means they pick up all the equipment (fold-up voting booths, impressive blue ballot box, box of supplies, black bag full of ballots, and eSlate paraphernalia) from the County Clerk & Recorder’s office, bring it to their polling place, set it up, and, after the polls close, bring it all back to the County Clerk under lock ‘n key.

It’s kinda complicated. There are umpteen-million forms for every possible occasion, a bouquet of security seals to be used in locking up voted ballots of every description, and long lines at the County Clerk’s office after the event. At the end of the long lines there are cookies, true, but one cookie after a 13-hour day involved in what boils down to political customer service is really not sufficient. I want beer.

And, see, if you’re Supply Judge, you’re sort of the team leader. You’d better have your ducks in a row so that the rest of the Election Judges at your polling place don’t think you’re a total loser. You’d better hope you get a good bunch of Election Judges to work with you, too. The sort that aren’t inclined to think of you as a total loser, or get pissy with you when you correct them on a point of order, or use the fact that they’re 20 years older than you as an excuse to treat you like a misbehaving child.

Actually, there are several axes along which a fellow Election Judge might fall…

There’s the Expertise axis, which typically indicates whether the Judge has done this before (although the ’04 General Election was long enough ago that it barely counts). There’s the Cooperation axis, indicating how willing and ready a Judge is to help. Combinations include Clueless But Eager To Learn (pure gold), Clueless And Oblivious (annoying but bearable), Expert Who Can’t Be Bothered (my God, shoot me now!), or Expert Who Loves To Help (I love you I love you I love you). Then there’s the Personality axis, with “joy to be around” at one end and “total millstone around my neck” at the other.

And then, related to the Expert axis, there’s the Self-Evaluation Abliity axis. One’s position along this axis is determined by one’s ability to determine exactly what one’s expertise level is in the first place.

Like I said, there are many combinations possible. Among the four Election Judges teamed up with me today, I think i managed to get, roughly speaking, one of each.

But only one of them has driven me to drink.

Imagine an Election Judge who falls at the Clueless end of the Expert axis, the Obstructionist end of the Cooperation axis, the Pissy end of the Personality axis, and the Denial end of the Self-Evaluation axis. Throw in a pinch of “Don’t you talk that way to me, missy!” Spend ten hours trying desperately not to deck her with the righteous fist of “You heard me on the phone with Headquarters telling them I can’t find this item, and it turns out you hid it under a pile of stuff you assured me I wouldn’t need until closing?! You bitch!”

I really want a beer.

That said, we need every Election Judge we can get. We, in fact, need every Supply Judge we can get. The County Clerk & Recorder’s Election Division were having a very hard time filling every position. Since I was out of town for supply pick-up day, and the eSlate stuff could not legally be picked up by my husband, I thought I wasn’t going to be a Supply Judge at all. But they managed to finagle a way to let me fill the role (John picked up everything but the eSlate stuff on Saturday, and I came back for the machines on Monday) because, frankly, they were that desperate. What’s more, they wanted to have at least two Judges at every polling place trained on the eSlate Voting Machines–the Supply Judge and one other–but that didn’t exactly happen.

People! Volunteer! This is our democratic process you are allowing to go understaffed! Sheesh. Democracy and child care–the two great underappreciated services in our country.

Anyway, if you want to help out with the General Election, then contact your County Clerk & Recorder Office Election Divison. If you’re in Boulder County, then volunteer to be a Machine Judge so that enough people have the expertise needed to run the eSlate. And if you can take the day off work to be an Election Judge, and if you have a car, then by all that’s holy, volunteer to be a Supply Judge.

Especially if you match the axis positioning described above–if you hate to be contradicted or corrected or otherwise told what to do–well then, you have no excuse not to volunteer as a Supply Judge. Dammit. Because if it makes you pissy to be told what to do by an anal-retentive Democrat-affiliated 30-year-old who wants her polling place to be run according to the spirit of all the rules you’ve both been trained in–such as, say, only signing oaths once they’re true–then by all means, make the frickin’ effort to get trained for the position that puts you in the leadership role. If you don’t make that effort, then I don’t want to hear about it, OK?

Now. I am going to damn well have that drink. See you at Conor’s.

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