It’s the first week in November and the polls are open in Alameda County, California, with early voting starting on Saturday, November 1. The general election is on Tuesday, November 4.
For me, that will be a long day.
That’s because I signed up to be a poll worker during the general election. On Tuesday, I report at 6 AM and will be there until the polls close at 7 PM, and probably a good while after.
My long day will actually start on Monday evening, when my fellow workers and I will meet at our polling place, a local high school, to set up and arrange the room.
This will be my first time as a poll worker. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing, so earlier this year during the primary, I inquired at my polling place and discovered that all I had to do was fill out an online application the Alameda County, California Registrar of Voters website.
So I did, indicating that I was willing to work in Alameda, the town where I live. Some weeks later, I received an email advising me that my application had been accepted. I was assigned a polling place.
I was also required to attend a two-hour training class prior to the election, which I did late in October. The class was an eye-opener.
There’s more to this job than greeting voters at the polls.
Each polling place here in California is assigned an inspector, a judge, and several clerks. Me, I’m one of the clerks. The reason things start so early in the morning is that we have set up and arrange the polling place. In some cases, when access can be arranged, poll workers can set up on the night before the election, which is where I’ll be Monday evening.
In addition to the voting booths, there’s an official table, where voters check in with clerks. There is also a scanner for ballots and a touchscreen voting apparatus which also has an audio option. Plus inside and outside signs must be hung.
Once the polls close, all this stuff, plus the ballots must be packed up just so. There are as many closing procedures as there are opening procedures. Various containers are packed and sealed for transport back to the Registrar of Voters.
All the poll workers must take an Oath of Office, which will be administered by the inspector. That makes it feel very official.
It’s a good thing I have this manual to consult, as well as an inspector who, when I spoke with him on the phone, sounds as though he’s done this many times before.
This should be an interesting experience, one that I take seriously.