Election Night Coverage III–Son of Election Night

November 6, 2008 at 1:46 AM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment
  I told a guy I work with at the bank that on Election Day I worked the poll.
  He said, "Really?  Did you make alot of money?"
  "Uh…no, not really.  Some, I suppose.  What–?"
  "It was all in ones anyway, right?"
  I said, "I don’t understand.  I worked in the election polling place."
  "Oh.  I thought you meant you worked the stripper poll."

  Five in the AM is pretty fucking early.  It’s early even when you normally get up at six.  Fifteen.  On Election Day I got up at 4 AM.  I had to be at the poll by five, because they open at six.
  We were expecting to be busy all day, and therefore warned to pack a lunch, snacks, and drinks.  I took a shower and padded around, packing my bag up.  I finally walked out the door about twenty till.  I headed to the newly reopened White Castle for breakfast, and sat in the drive thru for quite some time.  Finally, I get my food and it’s about five till.  What the fuck?  The black girls working the drive thru were giving me a hint of the Shape of Things to Come.
  I show up and immediately get to work, helping to set up the voting booths.  We have two kinds:  four of the new-fangled touch screen, and ten of the old-school Opti-scan, the paper ballot.  Many people chose the paper ballot because they don’t trust anyone, especially the machine people, and want to make sure their vote gets counted.  Of course, it’s an optical scan, so their vote gets read by a machine, but they don’t concern themselves with the esoteric.
  We had to declare what party we were with, because each poll has a equal number of Republicans, Democrats, and Communists–oh, wait, those last two are the same.  Republicans and Democrats.  We Republicans were out-numbered, however–I think the score was …
  Hold on.  Steve, Republican.  Joe, the old black guy, Democrat.  Lloyd, the middle-aged black guy, Democrat.  Me, Republican.  Dorothy, the old black woman, Democrat (I mean, honestly–what else would they be?).  The old white woman–I forget her name–Republican.  John, the old white guy, Republican.  Miriam, the black lady my age, Democrat.  A white chick my age who may have had the hots for me–Democrat.  How many is that?  Four Republicans, and five democrats, plus our high school teen helper, a cute young black chick.  Obviously a democrat.
  Once the polls opened, I learned quickly.  After three people, I had it down.  Each lucky contestant comes in and goes to the front.  They show ID, write their name on a card.  The card has name, location, ballot style, ballot number, voting style (the two choices, touch or paper), and a place for a representative from each party to initial. 
  Yes, everything is done in a bipartisan manner.  Every ballot marker and every paper ballot was initialed by both a Dem and a normal person.  Since we were low on normal people (as evidenced by the campaign), I did alot of initialing.  I began to feel important.
  Then, the hapless voter would slide down to one of us that had the roll books.  We would take their card and their ID again, and look it up.  We write the ballot number in the book, make an x for them to sign, and put our initials in the book.  Then we write the ballot style on marker and initial it in the spot of our party, if it hasn’t already been done.  Dorothy sat next to me, and had to slide all of hers to me for me to initial, which is what tells me that the chick who had the hots for me was a Democrat, because they all had her initials on them in the DEM spot. 
  Having passed all the trials, they now proceed to vote, either down the line to the paper, or to the middle of the floor where Steve was wrangling the touch screens.
  Dorothy and I had a good time.  We talked and got along.  She did say to me, "If your fiance saw how you was flirtin with all these women up in here, she’d kick you but."
  I laughed.  "She knows how I am.  Trust me, she knows."
  Every single woman–and by that I mean each and every one, not just the ones who were unmarried–that came to my table and showed me ID, I told them, "What a lovely picture!"  And I was sincere, and I meant it.  Even the fat ones, even the ugly ones.  All of them.  Towards the end of the evening, a cute–in a trailer-trash kind of way–redhead showed me her ID, and her picture was stunning.  Beautiful.  I gave her the line and she smiled, showing me that most of her teeth were missing.  Kids, don’t do meth.
  Towards the end of the day, I would say, "Even though I have said this to every woman who has passed through my line, please accept this with the spirit in which it was intended:  What a lovely photo."  The line between sincerity and sarcasm had started to blur.

  Oh, the lines!  The throng of people!  Oh, the huddled masses!
  Starting at six am, there were lots of people waiting to get in.  It was kind of like…ever seen a zombie movie with lots of dead people banging on the doors of the mall trying to get in?  Yeah, it was like that.  The only choices we had were to shoot them in the head or let them vote.
  Since it was Election Day, I was outvoted.  But any other–
  If it had been Arbor day, or Yom Kippur. we would have shot them all.  The unwashed masses approached and thusly voted.  We were really busy until about 930 or 10am.  Then it tapered off.  It was slow, but steady.  We were expecting a big rush again in the evening, after three.  Okay, after four.  Hmmm….Okay, well definitely after five.  By six, my thought was that everyone who wanted to vote had voted, perhaps twice.  Looking through my book I estimated an 85-90% turnout.  And then…it was over.  The last few stragglers voted and unceremoniously ushered out.
  We of course had heard the horror stories of lines around the block at other places, and people waiting for hours.  Not here.  Everyone got in, got out.  As I told one voter/fan, "It’s all due to my long experience as a restaurant manager.  I know how to handle a rush.  I get people in, get people out."
  "I have a question."
  "Get out."
  If I’m going to take the blame for a few mistakes I made, I damn sure am going to accept all the praise when things go right.
  We packed the shit up.  Most of it stays behind, to be picked up in a few days.  The results were packed into bags that were sealed and locked, to be delivered to the central office.  Only if the election is close–a 3% margin or less–or contested are the individual ballots audited and checked.
  Throughout the course of the day I met some people that I knew.  Now, this was the location I would have voted in, so it was in my neighborhood.  I met a lot of neighbors and so forth.  I saw Darryl and his wife, a couple from church.  He is my age, and we were in the same groups.  I always liked Darryl.  Then I saw Jim, the guy with whom I had worked at Domino’s, and then he got me a job at Papa John’s.  I got his phone number–I should call him some day.  I also saw the mayor or our town.  I didn’t know he lived near me.  He looked…what’s the word?  Smarmy.  I mean, likable, yet slimy.  He looked like a cartoon of a politician who is on the take from the mob in Chicago in the 30s.  A cross between that and the gopher from Caddyshack.
  I also saw my neighbor down the street whose daughter Miranda plays with.  And during the middle of the day, a guy named Tony Columbo came in.  TC is on a talk radio station I listen to.  He brought us some water with the station logo on it, and then decided to go ahead and vote–he lives in the neighborhood.  I chatted with him briefly, and helped him out.
  Speaking of voting…
  Looking through my book, M-R, I happened up a page in the N section.  A guy who used to live in my house.  He’s the one my parents bought it from, 14 years ago.  I look over, and wonder of wonders!–he is registered to vote still at that address.  Which, if you aren’t paying attention, is my address.  Hmmm.  But that’s not all.  What made it stand out is this:  In the middle it was preprinted so we didn’t miss it–this guy had already voted absentee.
  Curiouser and curiouser…
  If I hadn’t been working the poll, I never would have known.  He’s been doing this for 14 years.  I’m going to do something about it.  It comes to an end.  Now.

  So I called my dear one to come and pick me up, and I bid adieu to my co-workers and compatriots, and went home.  Detroit cooked dinner, and she made whatever the hell it was she made specifically to piss me off.  Then I went to the freezer to look for something else to eat, a backup plan.  But it was gone.  Now I was more pissed.  I went to bed.  Without knowing the results or caring, I went to bed.  I figured it’ll be a bright shiny day tomorrow regardless.

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