Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election Day

I served as an election officer at my home precinct in Fairfax County yesterday. I have to say that despite it being a long day, it was a lot of fun.

We had to be at the polling place at 5 am to help setup for the 6 am poll opening. I picked up my friend C at 4:50 am and off we went to the polling place at our nearby elementary school. Schools in Fairfax County were closed for Teacher Workdays -- actually parent-teacher conferences -- so our polling place was in the cafeteria.

C and I joined six other election officers at our precinct. The Chief officer had us post signs outside, in the school doorways, etc., so that we were "well marked". Then we got to choose our initial "job" -- working the poll books or working the machines. The poll books are paper poll books where one election officer looks up each prospective voter's name and address in the poll book and the other election officer keeps a tally (mark the next number off with an "X") on a poll book log sheet and gives the voter a "voter pass" card to give to the election officer working a machine. We had four Advanced Voting Solutions voting machines in our precinct and one election officer "worked" each machine.

I have to say that the process worked as smooth as silk in our precinct. We had some voters that had trouble with the ballot questions and touched the "next" button a little too quickly, but they got to the summary screen and easily "got back where they were" so they could opt to vote yes or no on a ballot question, or -- as was often the case -- skip the question altogether. Every election officer was great about being "nearby" to answer questions without violating a voter's privacy behind the "booth" -- but many asked where the curtains were when they say the machine setup!

One thing that would be a "great thing to have" at the polling place is the ability to look up where a person is registered to vote in neighboring counties. Due to being in such a large metropolitan area, we had many people who were "really" registered to vote in neighboring locations, such as Alexandria, Arlington, and even Loudoun County. I think we had less than 10 people that were "really" registered in other parts of Fairfax County but easily double that nu,ber from "other areas". It would have been great to have a machine to look up voter registration information from the surrounding communities and not just Fairfax County like we had.

We kept busy throughout the day -- to the point where none of us really got a significant break to eat a "real" lunch vs. quickly have some finger foods. But we kept covering for each other "between spurts" so we could get a quick bite, get some coffee, etc. It really was a great group of people to be with for such a long day. Not sure I'd like to work as an election officer for a primary where things were not quite as busy!

Anyway, our poll book to machine tally was off by one because we had one "walk away" who did not touch the "VOTE" button to actually submit their ballot. There was a change in the law this year where election officers CANNOT touch the "VOTE" button if the voter walks away, so we had lots of reminding to do about "don't forget to touch VOTE when you are done" to literally running after people saying "Sir, you haven't finished!" a couple of times. I was more of the nagger at the beginning of my "speech" when activating the ballot on the machine. :-)

And here's a link to our precincts results! We had 474 voters on "my" poll book (L-Z). I got home by 8:30 pm.

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