Unfiltered Story #67387

Madison, WI, USA | Unfiltered | December 13, 2016

(I’m running a poll during a primary election. According to our state’s laws, you don’t have to declare a party affiliation to vote, but you can only vote in one party’s primary. For simplicity’s sake and to allow the voter a totally secret ballot, all the party races are on the same ballot, but we explain to every voter that they have to pick a party. Some make mistakes and the voting machine spits back their ballots, and most of them are apologetic and patient as the pollworker re-explains how the system works. However, when one man’s ballot is rejected…)

Voter: “This machine won’t take my ballot.”

Pollworker: “I see the problem. The machine says you cross-voted.”

Voter: “What does that mean?”

Pollworker: “You probably voted in races for more than one party. Since this is a partisan primary, you can only vote either in the races for [Party] or the races for [Other Party]. You can’t do both; you have to pick a side.”

(Without a word, the voter crumples his ballot in his hands.)

Pollworker: “Wait! You might be able to fix –”

(The voter storms out, still clutching the destroyed and invalid ballot. Several pollworkers and I attempt to stop him but he ignores us.)

Me: “Did that really just happen?”

(Not one of the pollworkers, some of whom had more than a decade of service under their belts, ever remembered something like that happening in all the time they’d been working.)

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