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Wed May 3, 2017, 01:25 PM

Need advice on working election polls

Hello DU'ers,
Municipal elections (county commissioners, school board and city council positions) are going on at our locality this weekend. The county elections polling workers coordinator knew i'm bilingual so she called me to ask if i'd be willing to be on call for emergency work in the case one of their assigned workers drop out. Given i feel a bit guilty about turning her down the last time she called several months ago and the fact i don't really have anything pressing this Saturday i said yes (so my conscience will stop bothering me). That and the fact I am also very curious as to how workers can "cheat", and if there are any gaps in the system/process i can identify.

Anyhoo, need advice on what to watch out for, when best to take a break, etc. as she's told me the hours will be long - 6am to 6pm, possibly extending to 8pm depending on turnout.

Thank you and hoping our local Democratic candidates will kick butt!!
One Texan

32 replies, 5525 views

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Need advice on working election polls (Original post)
onetexan May 2017 OP
elleng May 2017 #1
Blue_true May 2017 #2
onetexan May 2017 #6
TreasonousBastard May 2017 #3
onetexan May 2017 #7
MagickMuffin May 2017 #4
onetexan May 2017 #5
MagickMuffin May 2017 #8
onetexan May 2017 #9
MagickMuffin May 2017 #14
onetexan May 2017 #17
Gothmog May 2017 #10
onetexan May 2017 #13
bettyellen May 2017 #11
onetexan May 2017 #12
bettyellen May 2017 #15
onetexan May 2017 #18
bettyellen May 2017 #20
MagickMuffin May 2017 #16
bettyellen May 2017 #19
MagickMuffin May 2017 #21
bettyellen May 2017 #22
Gothmog May 2017 #23
bettyellen May 2017 #25
Gothmog May 2017 #29
bettyellen May 2017 #30
Gothmog May 2017 #24
onetexan May 2017 #26
Jim Beard May 2017 #28
Jim Beard May 2017 #27
onetexan May 2017 #31
Gothmog May 2017 #32

Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 01:31 PM

1. Wish I could help,

but I 'only' worked a Presidential election, and received lots of information about what to do etc.

Post your question in the relevant State forum, maybe.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 01:36 PM

2. Review the process used to move voters along.

A voter should be checked off as eligible once given a ballot, some places require photo ID and use computers, some places require addresses and use voter roll books. Know who the republican poll watchers are, converse with them before voting starts to get a sense of what type of people they are, but still pay attention to what they do as voters come through. Each voter should get only one ballot and there should be a verification process if a voter asks for a second ballot because of a mistake. After a voter has voted, he or she should be checked off on the post vote roll book before being allowed to put the ballot into the counting process. Most states and districts use optical scanners know instead of the punch pad ballots, that makes cheating very difficult if the right ballot control procedures are used.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #2)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:07 PM

6. "Know who the republican poll watchers are" - how can i know this info discreetly

i wouldn't want to identify myself as a Democrat as i'd probably get a visceral reaction LOL.
Many thanks True Blue .

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 01:52 PM

3. Been doing it for years, but in suburban NY...

And I don't know what how it works in Texas. But a lot of it would be similar.

Here, the county runs major elections, does the hiring and paying, buys and maintains the machines, etc. etc. Smaller elections, like local school boards, are run by the localities, since the county would charge them.

The days are long-- polls open at six AM and close at 9PM, and figure an hour and a half on top of that to open and close. Every time I do it, everyone says never again, but then the same faces show up next time.

I've worked at least half a dozen different polling places in the county, and never seen actual cheating or corruption. The system works hard to make it difficult, and most people who do this seem basically honest anyway. I would not be surprised if that's the same down there. Besides any obvious and illegal stuff, like ballot manipulation, you might want to think about structural problems, like any difference in treatment of women or minorities. Here, we tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and if they are not in the roll book for some reason we give them affidavit or other special ballots and have judges standing by for special cases.

Just don't go in assuming the worst because of all the internet hysteria. There are still problems, but i doubt it's as bad as some would have you believe.

Being a local election, turnout probably won't be that high so you can wander off for a break pretty much any time the place is pretty empty. Local rules apply, though, as do whoever is running the show.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #3)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:10 PM

7. "structural problems, like any difference in treatment of women or minorities" - GREAT ADVICE

thank you TB, much appreciated. I would not have thought to watch out for this.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 01:53 PM

4. I'm a Precinct Chair in Tarrant County since 2008


I have worked every aspect of varying elections. We are always provided training by the Elections Office. They also have printed copies of the powerpoint presentation.

I would watch for making sure voters aren't turned away. In my county there will only be one polling location so there shouldn't be any reason of turning voters away.

There was changes to the voter id law, so you should be aware of those. One no longer has to show a photo id, however, they must have a "good" reason why they aren't able to provide a photo id.

In my precinct the Presiding Judge is a republican, but he believes in the voting system, so I haven't ever had a real problem with him. I serve as the Alternate Judge.

I would contact the county elections office and ask if they have any printed material that you could have to ensure you know what your duties are as a clerk.

I had to help voters in November (who were older than me, who bragged this was their first time voting) vote for trump'd. It was difficult but it is my duty to help voters cast their ballots if they need it.

Serving as an election clerk can be very rewarding. You definitely get to experience the underbelly of the voters in our communities.

Good LUCK and Thank You For Serving!!!






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Response to MagickMuffin (Reply #4)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:05 PM

5. "experience the underbelly of the voters in our communities" - exactly why i'm doing this

Thanks so much for the tips Magic Muffin. Funny Tarrant County is mine too so we may run into each other .

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Response to onetexan (Reply #5)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:13 PM

8. Do you ever participate in any of the TCDP events?

At out last CEC meeting in March we elected 56 Precinct Chairs. I was very amazed of the Democrats taking on the responsibility of serving our county in the Democratic process.

I have a training manual if you need one, however, as I mentioned if you call they will be more than accommodating in getting you set up to work an election!





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Response to MagickMuffin (Reply #8)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:18 PM

9. YES! Went to Beto's meet&greet,

"come together/fight back" @Verizon theater, & recently joined several Dems clubs nearby. We had 2 local candidates running against lyin' Ted Cruz in '18 come to one of the clubs' monthly meetings for meet&greet, & a very smart young lady running for Tx senate. All of them are first timers running for elected office. I'm proud more Dems as a whole are stepping up - that is the silver lining of this trump age.
BTW yes i've asked for the training material - there's an online link and the coordinator will be sending doco as well so hopefully the material will be helpful.

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Response to onetexan (Reply #9)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:40 PM

14. I was also at the Come Together Fight Back rally


I loved our County Chair Deborah People's fighting gloves routine. She is a very funny lady.

I wasn't able to attend the Beto's event, hopefully he will be back.

I don't have a lot of funds to attend these events. But I do what I can!

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Response to MagickMuffin (Reply #14)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:00 PM

17. i hear ya, neither do i have the time

but getting involved was the best therapy for me. I got to the point where i was cussing at the tv whenever the Orange Idiot came on the news LOL. Now i'm much calmer and feel my involvement helps me channel my frustrations into constructive action.
Me 2 - the CTFB event was first time i'd seen Ms. Peoples speak, & she really impressed me. I liked her speech better than Bernie's actually. She was at the Beto event as well firing up everyone with her contagious energy. Both times amidst the chaos i didn't get to meet her but i'm sure i will one of these days.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:22 PM

10. My youngest daughter is working this weekend as the head election judge

I have been an election judge a number of times. It is rewarding and not too hard. There will be low turnout out and so bring a book to read. There will likely be lulls between voters. My daughter is good at setting up the machines but if you are the designated translator, then you should not have too much trouble.

I strongly encourage good democrats to work the polls. If I have a choice, I want a good democrat to be a poll worker instead of a poll watcher. As a poll worker, you can talk to voters and help voters use the machinery.

The voter id issues are interesting but the head election judge should be in charge of these issues. Basically if a person does not have one of the 7 approved ids, then you have to offer them the opportunity to vote by signing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and have them provide one of a number of alternative forms of IDs. The only real issue is if the voter has one of the 7 required ids but does not have it with them. If the id is lost then they get to vote using the RID but if the id is not lost, they have to go get it.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #10)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:36 PM

13. thank you Gothmog

i'll definitely keep the approved voter id forms in mind and the RID option

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:26 PM

11. The most common trick I saw was poll workers "not finding"registrations for younger voters....

 

The books were arranged by odd and even addresses- mine was odd- and they'd go for the even numbered books and play stupid. Every time they did this, I would loudly explain their goof so the people behind me would know the trick. They disliked "new comers" voting. They also had lots of phony voters on the rolls (literally allowed to read their name off a piece of paper with four other names on it) but we are a rarity in that regard, so I won't go into it.
So get to know the books and the voter ID rules. If people are being denied be ready to point them towards a resolution (sometimes a court order,sometimes a provisional ballot).

I hope you enjoy the experience and make it a regular thing! Thanks for doing it!

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #11)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:33 PM

12. Thank you Bettyellen - wow -

as the English would say, "dodgy business". I will definitely watch out for any signs of registration hanky panky and speak loud enough as you have to be within earshot of the voters, though i'm hoping i won't run into any such questionable characters .

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Response to onetexan (Reply #12)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:41 PM

15. My town is in law school textbooks for voter fraud- when people died they added them

 

To the phony voter list. When entire buildings were renovated they'd make sure all the old occupants stayed on the rolls. A certain member of the city councils cabal had the power of thousands of phony votes. For local elections it was enough to swing it. The FBI filmed groups of "paid campaign workers" going into 4-5 polling places one after the other. I believe that since they could not film inside they were never able to do anything about it.
The local poll workers (mostly older women) were part of the scam and would shout down any challenges. Teachers and policemen were pressured into making campaign calls from and during their work hours. Mailmen or building managers would throw mass mailings into the garbage. People believed that the powers that be would know how hey voted and kick them out of subsidized housing. Campaign workers would knock on their doors and only inform them who they were voting for the morning of. And they were afraid not to be seen running to the polls and voting as told.


Two of our mayors went to jail for corruption. They are slowly losing power. But yeah- it was ugly. Tampered machines, emergency closing of polling places, threats of arson toward campaign workers (me). And yet, I love it here. And have managed to make some great impacts on the community despite them.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #15)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:05 PM

18. OMG that's insane!!

where was this? i need to look it up and read about it. Don't mean to be laughing but truth is stranger than fiction...you can't make this stuff up!

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Response to onetexan (Reply #18)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:12 PM

20. Check your PMs.

 

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Response to onetexan (Reply #12)

Wed May 3, 2017, 02:45 PM

16. In Tarrant County the poll books are listed alphbetically

Having the poll books listed by odd and even addresses just sounds very strange to me. Thankfully we don't have to deal with that issue.

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Response to MagickMuffin (Reply #16)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:11 PM

19. I know that they used to give the books out the day before the election - and the poll workers

 

Would rip out pages of new registrations. We had to run a shuttle service to the court in the next town where they had duplicates of the registrations to get people court orders to vote. It appeared that dozens of registrations handled by me and other young liberals were deliberately destroyed. A friend of mine actually saw the huge paper bag of voters names being handed over.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #19)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:17 PM

21. WOW, talk about corruption


It really is hard to believe isn't it. That's the main reason I became a Precinct Chair and since there wasn't one I kinda got ushered in. However, candidate Barack Obama in 2007 got me "Fired Up and Ready to GO!!!

THANKS OBAMA!!!



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Response to MagickMuffin (Reply #21)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:26 PM

22. There was a huge amount of mob influence wanting development projects pushed

 

Through. I saw quite a few "young reformers" give up and become part of the problem. Thank god that last asshole went to jail. Our new mayor is taking a lot of grief for it- but we're increasing parks and open spaces again for the first time in many years.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #11)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:35 PM

23. My county has online look up of registrations

Depending on the county, you may have access to a laptop to check voters in. Most drivers licenses can be scanned or run though bar code reader which really speeds up the process. There are counties with poll books like Harris County for election day. I hate the election supervisor for Harris County and we have a great lady running to replace him in 2018.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #23)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:52 PM

25. We still have the old guard running that shit for the most part.

 

You can't get in as a poll worker unless you register as GOP- because they protect each other. They've been at this shit for a good hundred years, but their power is slowly eroding. Part of it is we're running out of space to develop. But the tax monies will still keep the mobsters around in some form or another.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #25)

Wed May 3, 2017, 05:38 PM

29. I am on good terms with my county's election law administrator

To be a good sport, I have twice been the election judge for GOP primary and for the run off. That was no fun. GOP voters can be real assholes.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #29)

Wed May 3, 2017, 06:41 PM

30. It's tricky shit here, the powers that be really do scare a lot of locals...

 

Yet there are thousands of new comers in the last thirty years who haven't the slightest clue or interest. What was horrible is that I registered hundreds of people way back- and these fuckers destroyed the local copies. Not just the ones I witnessed, but loads of other volunteers too. We still won the more important elections, but the PTB has gotten their choice for mayor in every single time for the last 30 years. If our mayor gets reelected it will break that streak. She was promoted from head of city council after they carted another mayors ass off to jail.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:40 PM

24. Two things to watch out for

These are my personal pet peeves or things to watch out for.

While you cannot watch a voter vote, you can make sure that they finalize the ballot. If you are at the Judge Booth Controller (JBC), you can tell if a voter has finalize and cast ballot. There are voters who think that they voted but did not hit the final caste ballot button. You need to keep an eye out for this.

Second, keep an eye out for people with disabilities. Every poling place has a voting machine that can be taken out to a voter who needs to vote from their car. We do a lousy job of training poll watchers to keep an eye out for people who need to vote in their cars. It is a requirement of federal law that a county has to offer the ability to vote without coming into the polling place if they are disabled.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #24)

Wed May 3, 2017, 03:59 PM

26. Thanks Gothmog, good to know there is a voting machine specifically for disabled people

The cast ballot is of utmost importance as well. From past experience voting there are signs up informing people how to use the machines but for someone whose computer challenged it may be intimidating. I'm assuming a poll worker can inform people in line to call a poll worker if they need help selecting their choices or following the user interface. My background is in software engineering and yet i myself had a little bit of hard time figuring out the dials the first time i voted with the electronic ballot machines used here. I'm assuming the archaic technology needs a refresh. Touch screen would be much better.

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Response to Gothmog (Reply #24)

Wed May 3, 2017, 04:41 PM

28. Thanks for the heads up about finalizeing ballots. Ours are optical scanners and do not require that

 

Counties buy their own machines and they are varied. My small county uses a large firm in Illnois to program our machine. I know several other counties that use them but I don't if all are.

Back to your main question about being an observer, without reading the rules, my memory recalls once you start observing, you must stay or once you leave, you can not return. Check with your states SOS.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Wed May 3, 2017, 04:31 PM

27. I wish my county had your problems. We do not have county chairs in 27 Counties

 

of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains. I was one for a while and could not get any support. We tried for a while heaving Precinct conventions but we have been on a down hill slide since. I was the only one left that would do anything and it just became too much for me, especially with retiring office holders.

Try your states Secretary of states office, they should have all the guidelines to go by. I had to do some but most were done by the local County Clerk.

Try this and the Texans can also benefit......

https://www.sos.state.tx.us/Elections/conducting/index.shtml

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Response to Jim Beard (Reply #27)

Wed May 3, 2017, 08:44 PM

31. Thank you for the link, this is very useful

and so sorry to hear about the county chair problems Jim. It's maddening to hear this day & age we have that many counties without county chairs.

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Response to onetexan (Original post)

Fri May 5, 2017, 08:57 PM

32. For grins, I sat in the election judge training that my daughter had to attend

I disagreed with some of the "bad" reasons for requesting a reasonable impediment ballot and forwarded the power point to the attorneys in this case. Hopefully they can use this in the next hearing on the Texas voter id law

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