Back from the early voting front line

A few weeks ago I posted about my plans to work for the Wake County Board of Elections at an early voting site. I worked 80 of the 141 hours the Pullen Arts Center early voting site was open (taking annual leave for the hours that fell in my normal workday).
I had done the same for the 2004 general election, and found the process fascinating from the perspective of a pollworker. I spent about two-thirds of my hours checking in voters, giving out authorizations to vote (labeled “application for absentee ballot”, since that what the process legally was, as the voter was absent from the regular polling place on election day).
As each voter came through the line (Pullen handled over 18,000 of the 250,341 early voters, and was one of the 15 Wake County sites open), they came to one of four laptops where we looked up the voters, repeating back the name and address announced by the voter. Many said they were not registered and wanted to take advantage of the new Same Day Registration (SDR). Interestingly, about 10% of the people who said they were not registered in Wake County actually were, with half of that subgroup really needing just to report an address change, the rest did not realize that their registration from 2004 or earlier was “permanent”. Those who were not actually registered we sent on over to the SDR table. About 10% of all the voters I checked in (probably 200 out of 2000) needed to report address changes within Wake County, the software automatically assigned a new precinct and one of the 47 ballot styles.

I also worked a lot at same day registration, assisting voters in filling out their application, explaining the requirements, and processing the applications.  The technology took the voters address, assigned a precinct and ballot style, and printed out the “application for an absentee ballot”.  We some new applicants who did not have the proper residence information (everyone had some sort of photo ID), we gave them the choice of voting a provisional ballot and providing the information to the Board of Elections by canvass day on November 14 to have the vote count, or come back later in the early voting period with the information.  Everyone I dealt with said they would come back to the site with the information, and I saw a lot of them come back in.

The sites were highly staffed up. In 2004 at that site, we had 14 people, this year it was 25-30 each day. Two persons worked helping assist curbside voters, one worked the line answering questions and handling crowd control, four checked in voters on laptops, one worked the help desk checking in applications from cirbside voters and dealing with problems, two registered voters at laptops, one floater assisted new voters filling out applications, three worked handing out the ballots (Wake had 47 different ballots due to overlapping Congressional (3), State Senate (4), State House (9), and superior court (2) districts), one person assisted persons moving to one of the 18 voting booths or two tables, and one assisted with the tabulator and handled out “I voted early” stickers. There was also a site supervisor, two or three persons covering breaks for the rest, and several floaters.  Quite an organized effort, and the lines were very rarely more than 30 minutes long from the parking lot to check-in. I only worked one site, but I heard that at the two shopping mall sites there were even more staff.

Back to work. Starting to get bill drafting requests for the 2009 Regular Session!






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