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Thoughts from the polling place

This is about the American democratic process.  It isn't intended to be the latest volley in the bloodsport of post-2008 American politics.  If anyone wants to go there, you know what room it's in.

Some of you might know that I am an election inspector in Westchester County.  It's my way of being able to say that I participated in the process instead of just talking about it.  I certainly don't do it for the money -- my time is certainly worth more than the stipend we are paid for a grueling work day.  We have to be at the polling place at 5:00am on election day, and we don't get to go home until we have completely closed the polls.  This includes bringing in anyone who was still standing in line at the offical closing time of 9:00pm, then completing a lot of administrivia to properly close the machines and read off the totals while a bunch of poll watchers are breathing down our necks.  All told, it was an 18-hour workday this past Tuesday, when we were there for the primaries.

And that brings me to my first observation: there were A LOT of people who weren't aware that it was primary day for the two major American political parties.  As is usually the case, I blame the media for this.  There has been so much hype over voters rights, vote by mail, voter fraud, voting this, voting that, and of course we've all been inundated with the Perise Practical ad and others like it which shout from the rooftops "June 23 is Election Day!"    So what happened?  A lot of people dutifully got in line to vote, thinking it was a general election.  We turned away a lot of registered independents who were led to believe they needed to vote, but since they weren't registered to either of the parties holding a primary, they were not eligible to vote.  We had just as many who didn't know their party registration, or who received what they believed was the "wrong" ballot.  (We have a new computer system this year that replaces the poll books and looks up the voter in the Department of Elections database ... much easier.)

And I don't mean a few people either.  I'd say a large percentage of the people in line didn't know why they were voting.  We had Republicans asking why there was only one race on the ballot.  We had Democrats asking what "delegates" are and why they're on the ballot.  And we had people asking why Mr. Trump wasn't on the ballot (for those of you outside the US who don't know: he's running uncontested).

The next thing that I observed is the difference in opinion between politicians/pundits and actual voters with respect to the idea of requiring ID to vote.  The supposed argument against an ID requirement is that it suppresses the vote of low-income citizens who cannot afford an ID.  What I observed at the pool is this: no one cares.  I saw people lining up with their ID in hand.  In fact, these were people who were obviously not affluent, but they had their ID and had no qualms about showing it.  So from this perspective it's difficult to argue that any politicians or pundits who are anti-ID are actually pro-fraud.

So now let's cover another observation: how the rules about "electioneering" are handled.  We had a candidate who set up a table right in front of the polling place, but just outside of the 100 foot distance required by law.  These people were legally "not at the polls" but for all practical purposes they were -- you practically had to walk past their table to get in the door.  We were not permitted to ask them to move any further away.  Then later in the morning we had a hyper-mega-bitch wearing a shirt with a black power fist, a rainbow flag, and some moronic slogan about "intersectionality" standing in the room lecturing us for 20 minutes about voter suppression while demanding that she be allowed to vote a second time.  She didn't get kicked out, and stayed in the room harassing other voters until we gave her a provisional ballot.  But another voter who walked in peacefully and attempted to vote quietly while wearing a shirt with the name of a candidate on it -- the election chairperson got in his face and demanded that he leave the site.  WTF?

For all its flaws, it's still a good process, and I think it works.  Yes, I do believe we still have massive election fraud, but I don't see it happening at the polling place.  It happens later when fraudulent ballots find their way into the system.  The polls themselves are well-run.  I like how the machines provide totals for rapid tabulation, but the process still retains physical ballots which can be recounted later.  And I like the new computer based check-in system that eliminates the big books, but it's clearly a Version 1.0 product and it needs some refinement.

I'll be back in November, which is certain to be the biggest circus of all time.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Fri Jun 26 2020 14:45:33 EDT
12 comments | permalink
zooer  says:  Sat Jun 27 2020 07:53:24 EDT
We are all aware that the citizens are ignorant about the election process and current events. We could all post stories, nothing will change, nothing will be fixed and both parties will continue to nominate the worst possible choices.

darknetuser  says:  Sat Jun 27 2020 14:54:52 EDT
What does it take to have an ID card? Because in ancient Athens you could not vote if you couldn't afford full combat gear gear. It was their way of ensuring only productive people got to decide what to do with the money of the city (as a bonus point, it made voting for war more relevant, because if they voted to go to war, the ones fighting would be the voters).

I know I am going to sound like a bullshit elitist, but I like that model more each day.

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Sat Jun 27 2020 15:14:03 EDT
What does it take to have an ID card? Because in ancient Athens you
could not vote if you couldn't afford full combat gear gear. It was
their way of ensuring only productive people got to decide what to do

I've heard this said in another way with regard to American voting: a suggestion that one's share of the vote should be proportional to the amount you pay in taxes. This taxes tax dodgers and non producers both out of the picture, since they don't actually have any skin in the game.

It was probably also the intention of the original requirements (white male landowners over 35 years old) but those requirements are obviously obsolete today. I'd be ok with substantially raising the age requirement, and *some* sort of requirement of actual investment in the economy, to avoid having half the populating voting to confiscate the other half's wealth. But this is starting to get into politics rather than commentary about the voting process, which is probably not a great idea here.

zooer  says:  Sat Jun 27 2020 22:13:04 EDT
I still like the idea of ranked choice/instant run off voting. People are confused about the system we have now, ranked choice would only confuse them more.

LoanShark  says:  Sun Jun 28 2020 09:53:52 EDT


IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Fri Jul 03 2020 19:12:43 EDT
I still like the idea of ranked choice/instant run off voting.

I can assure you that there are people who think we have that.

We regularly have to reject ballots where people mark all of the candidates they like, when they're only supposed to mark one.

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Sat Jul 11 2020 16:45:45 EDT
(The next set of replies to this post were political in nature so I moved them to the politics room.)

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Tue Oct 12 2021 19:14:04 EDT
Wow, this post didn't age well.

LoanShark  says:  Wed Oct 13 2021 13:45:30 EDT


Ranked choice has made me less likely to *vote.* It's too complicated.

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Wed Oct 13 2021 17:33:38 EDT
Where did you have the opportunity to ranked-choice vote?

LoanShark  says:  Thu Oct 14 2021 14:42:36 EDT
2021-10-13 17:33 from IGnatius T Foobar
Where did you have the opportunity to ranked-choice vote?

NYC mayoral primary.

IGnatius T Foobar  says:  Wed Jun 22 2022 12:09:15 EDT
Wow, I'm re-reading this post in 2022 and it didn't age well at all. My thoughts on this subject are now the exact opposite of what I posted two years ago.

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