Election Preparation

(Originally written in May, 2014)

For the past 10 years or so, I have been an “Election Official” for the Durham County Board of Elections.  During that time, I have seen some crazy things happen, and I’d like to know how you feel about some of these “spectacles” I have witnessed.

When you go to vote, do you feel like you’re prepared to vote?  Do the “electioneers” (the folks handing out the flyers, etc. at the polls) bother you?  I’m just stunned at how many people really look at that propaganda as they’re entering the voting area.  Am I the only one who thinks that a voter should have done their homework before they go to the poll?  And shouldn’t they trust the research they’ve done to believe in what they’ve figured out is best for them?  I’ve actually had one voter come to me, while I was working in the precinct, and ask me who they should vote for.  Understand, this happened ON the DAY OF the election!  Really?

One time, a couple came in to vote.  He received his ballot, yet was apparently clueless on whom to vote for, and wanted to use his cell phone to research the candidates.  In North Carolina, the use of cell phones is prohibited in the voting area.  We held his ballot aside and he went just outside the door and did his “research”.  Meanwhile, his wife knew exactly who she wanted to vote for and was finished very quickly.  Remember, they showed up at the poll together!  Did they not at least TALK about who to vote for?

A few years ago there was an issue on the ballot that applied to the City of Durham, which is in Durham County, but not in Durham County itself.  Actually, I might have that flip-flopped, in that it may have been a County issue but not a City issue.  Nevertheless, this particular voter was FURIOUS that it wasn’t on the specific ballot that he was supposed to be voting!  We gave him the opportunity to vote a “Provisional Ballot” that had that particular issue on it, but not the issues/choices that he was supposed to be choosing.  When we use a provisional ballot, the Board of Elections determines if it will count, but they still go by the address of record, so his vote(s) probably did not count at all.

We are very fortunate to live in a country where WE can decide who our leaders are and how we want issues handled.  This is a right, a privilege and an honor that many people around the world wish they had.  Don’t we owe it to ourselves to understand what we want and need, and the process to make it happen?  It makes you wonder…

Oh, for the lady from Romania who just got her U.S. citizenship and voted for the very first time in her life, I say congratulations!  It was my honor to take your picture!  And yes, I noticed that your eyes were watery – so were mine!!!

If you ever get the chance, work in a precinct for an election.  It is an eye-opening experience.