Book Trailer The Noble Train

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Election Judge Incident

I worked as an election judge during the 2008 election. We were chugging along with nothing really out of the ordinary. I worked the table and checked people in, then I worked the booth and helped people who got stuck with the computerized voting booths. Our precinct was elderly and a lot of people needed help. I had a cellphone and a walkie talkie. I had instructions to call for the Field Deputy if anything strange happened. Nothing did until the Poll Watchers Arrived.

They were from the McCain campaign and they were by law allowed into our polling station. Their job was to observe and make sure nobody was stuffing the ballot box, registering phantom votes, basically keep an eye on us. This is all provided for and both parties have Poll Watchers. The trouble began when the Poll Watchers sat down at our table and began writing down the name of voters. I wasn't sure this was illegal until Holly, the Precinct Captain came up to me.

That is illegal. You should do something , she said. I was the Election Judge and it was my unofficial job to keep order in the Polling Place. I had  been instructed to call at the first sign of trouble. But of course my phone lost its signal and the walkie talkie was talking static. Heidi told me it was illegal for the Poll Watchers to sit at our table. So I walked over and requested they move. I was met with a handout that said they had the right to sit wherever they wanted. They were sleepy eyed men with ties who stared me down defiantly.

No you have to move I persisted. They did not and pulled up their own cellphones. I stood in front of them and told them again they had to move. Within minutes a man in a trench coat appeared and identified himself as a lawyer with the McCain campaign. Another man appeared and said he was a "negotiator: though he used a more Irish term that escapes me now. And then our Field Commander appeared and we had ourselves an incident.

Everyone argued back and forth and it was decided the Poll Watchers could stay, but they would sit in two chairs to the side of the table. For the rest of the day we glared at each other and since the election had a very clear winner, I heard nothing more. But I have wondered if that election had been close, would I have been called upon to testify what happened at our precinct and could someone have pointed to skewed results. I will never know.

But in this election the stage is set for more lawyers to appear in what will be a close election.  There will be problems.  Lets hope a couple of chairs will put things right again.

Books by William Hazelgrove