Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My day as a poll monitor

Looks like early voting in Colorado really paid off. I visited four five polling places and found no significant lines at any of them.

I wasn’t able to help a single voter at any polling place. But the day wasn’t a total loss. My bright yellow “nonpartisan volunteer” T-shirt attracted the attention of a young woman in a coffee shop where I was taking a break. She told me she had just found out that today was the last day to vote. She was registered in Pueblo (an hour away), but could she vote online? How about in Colorado Springs? Could she re-register today? What about her friend, who was registered to vote in Alamosa (more than two hours away)? Could her friend vote in Pueblo?

Oh my. I managed to maintain my composure as I answered her many questions.

Here’s how the rest of my day went, in Colorado Springs and its environs:

  • My first gig was at an exceedingly quiet precinct—and an exceedingly confusing one. It was on a college campus, and the signage was woefully inadequate. About the only action for several hours occurred when classes changed. One of the election judges told me that a neighboring precinct was swamped, so I went to help out at:

  • Site number 2, where there were even fewer voters. At noon I went inside to ask an election judge how things had gone so far. They told me that they expected to close up shop by 2 p.m., because nearly every registered voter in the precinct had already voted.

  • Off to polling place 3. No voters, no lines, no cars in the parking lot except those belonging to election judges.

  • Same for number 4.

  • Polling place 5, my wonderful hometown, where the wind chill was below freezing and I had to wear that bright yellow T-shirt over several layers of warmer clothing. This was the one place where I think I could have actually helped, because the lines were longer than at the other places I went to. But I had to stay beyond the 100-foot “electioneering” point, even though I wasn’t electioneering, and the lines weren’t nearly 100 feet long. The wait was only 15 minutes.

All in all, it was a frustrating day because I didn’t feel like I was much help. But it served one purpose: it exposed a few more problems that need to be fixed, liked signage and maybe better predictions about where to expect long lines and problems.

Bottom line, this seems to have been a fairly glitch-free election in Colorado. We'll see later on.


movie fan said...

i can't help thinking it's awesome that there has been such long lines all over... people taking a greater interest in public issues is always a good thing

Marcia Ford said...

I agree. The short lines on Election Day didn't reflect voter apathy. They were a testimony to the success of early voting. Now if only we would allow same day voter registration...