Timely Observations of a Election Day Volunteer (Or, why our voting system is broken, but not in the way Ohio Republicans think it is.)

In Midwest, Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I have finally decided to revive this blog, and the timing couldn’t be better. About six months ago I drafted a post based on my experience volunteering for the first time as a poll observer. Both parties in Ohio are entitled to send poll observers to monitor the elections and ensure that everything is running smoothly, the law is being followed, and voters rights’ are being protected. (Of course, one party which shall remain nameless tends to care more about voters’ rights than the other.)

The general impetus of my rant thoughtful post was that the United States is leaps and bounds away from having a fully functioning democracy. We fail at running elections.

While I had many, many criticisms about how Ohio runs its elections, I did *not* observe that we need fewer opportunities to vote by absentee ballot or that we should eliminates a requirement that poll workers direct voters in the wrong precinct to the correct one. Nope. Can’t say that those were the reforms I was thinking about.

Rather, these were the type of issues I walked away scratching my head over:

  • What, you couldn’t find us here in the voting location, back here behind the school bus maintenance building industrial entrance with no signs or flags?
  • Do you know your voting rights? It is likely that the election workers do not know your rights. Learn them and bring this handy card with you to the polls. Or consider volunteering as a poll observer. A big part of my job was educating the poll workers themselves about what was allowed under the law and correcting misinformation.
  • Why Tuesday? Seriously, why?!
  • Roving bands of republicans. Ew.
  • Yes, let’s take one of the most important jobs in a democracy–election day poll workers–and hire low-wage elderly folks and make them work a sixteen hour day (with a lunch break only). Sure, no mistakes will
  • Can someone please update the worker manual and correct those errors? Mmm thanks.
  • Identification madness. So. Much. Madness.
  • Law student fail: no clue who these judges are and which one I should vote for. Kinda doubt any of these other voters have a clue either.
  • Problems voting? I know, let’s just give you a provision ballot that will never be counted!
  • Who is in charge around here? And why am I (the volunteer) the one making sure you don’t run out of ballots?!
  • Oh, you move around frequently? You rent, you are a student, you got evicted and had to move in with relatives for some time? Oh Yeah, you are pretty much screwed because you can’t vote here anymore.
  • Why oh why can’t people just register on site?

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