A Broken Observation

, , , , | Right | May 1, 2019

It is during a US presidential election, and I am in charge of a district polling place. As it’s a large and very emotionally-fraught election, many groups around the state have sent out third-party observers to monitor the activity at polling places. As they are not considered election staff, my authority over them is limited to making them sign in and ensuring they don’t interfere with voters in any way; I have no say over who they are or how many.

I have three observers at my site, and they are all doing exactly what they’re supposed to, which is why I’m shocked when a woman tells me she wants to complain about them.

That is, until I hear her complaint. She’s upset because all of the observers are from one political party and there are none from the other, and wants to know what I’m going to do about it.

As patiently as I can, I explain to her that I have no control over which groups send observers, that it shouldn’t affect the process in any way because observers aren’t allowed to interfere with voters or try to convince them to vote a certain way, that she could try reaching out to the other party to send observers if she’s really concerned, and that I can’t just ask the observers to leave because she’s uncomfortable.

She decides this isn’t sufficient and continues to stand in front of me and declare that it’s “unfair” and “just doesn’t seem right” until I finally tell her point-blank, “Ma’am, the observers are allowed to be here, I don’t choose which groups are represented, and there is nothing more I can do, so I need you to step aside and allow me to help other voters.” She finally walks off, still muttering under her breath about the unfairness of the situation and making me wonder exactly what it was she expected me to do; create observers for the second party out of thin air?

Will Take A Vote On Who Was Right

, , , , | Friendly | April 13, 2019

(Our voting place has been inside an apartment complex near our house for years. I usually walk there, but one year I decide to drive. I go in the morning because I can vote before work and my shift will last past voting hours. No big deal, right? I drive up and the complex has four parking spaces for voters and all are being used. The only other parking space is handicapped. Knowing I am going to run in and out — I have a filled-out sample ballot so all I have to do is color in some circles — I park in a resident’s spot. I hate doing it but figure I’ll be really quick. I am quite literally filling in the last circle when a lady bursts into the voting place.)

Lady: “Who drives a [car meeting mine’s description]? You’re in my spot!”

Me: *fessing up* “That’s me. I’m leaving right now. Sorry, there was nowhere to park.”

(It’s lame, I know it, but I’m complying with her wants.)

Lady: “You’re in my spot! It’s not for voters!”

Me: “I know. All those spots were filled. Again, I’m sorry.”

(I try to leave to move my car, but she isn’t done.)

Lady: “You can’t park there! You—“ *directs her finger to the voting volunteers* “—need to make sure they can’t park there.”

Volunteer: “Ma’am, we do not block people from voting. It is about ten in the morning, so people are going to use those open spots. We will not stop them.”

(She had a small meltdown and I walked out to move the car. Out there I saw one vehicle parked across two open resident spaces near the spot I parked in. Apparently, she could park in two other people’s spot but I couldn’t park in one!)

Vote Of Happiness!

, , , , , | Hopeless | March 29, 2019

It is Election Day many years ago. I stop by my polling place after work to place my vote. The lines are long, it is late, I haven’t had dinner yet, and everyone looks tired and miserable. One person pokes his head out of the curtain at the voting booth, asking the volunteers for help. He then goes back behind the curtain. There is more than one booth for my district, but it’s going slow and I notice this guy has been in his booth for what seems like forever.

After a long while, he steps out. He is beaming, and he looks around at the unsmiling, waiting faces.  

“I have an announcement to make! Today, for the first time, I voted as an American citizen! Congratulate me!”

Smiles appear on everyone’s faces and congratulations pour in from all around. And, yes, everyone really does clap! I walk home much happier.

Basketball Is Of Primary Concern

, , , , | Learning | August 28, 2018

(I am an election judge during our state primaries. The polling place where I am working is in a basketball court in a local school. At one point a bunch of guys, probably in their late teens or early twenties, come in through the school-side doors, dressed up in gym wear and holding a couple basketballs.)

Guy: “So, how long are you guys going to be?”

Head Judge: “We’re here all day.”

Guy: “Well, we want to play here. Can you do this somewhere else?”

Head Judge: “Um… No.”

Guy: “Yeah… We’ll be talking to the superintendent about this. So, you should you start packing up and look for another spot!”

(As the group of players heads out:)

Head Judge: “I suppose I should put that in the incident log.”

(Those boys were never heard from again.)

She Needs A Robocop

, , , | Friendly | July 13, 2018

(My robotics team and I are advocating for a bond that would give us a new robotics lab. We are at the “botting” area to try and convince people to vote for the bond. It has been going smoothly until this encounter.  A lady is walking to the entrance.)

Me: “Hello, ma’am, could we inform you about our robotics team and why you should vote for our bond?”

Lady: “STOP HARASSING ME, or I swear to God I will call the cops, and they will kill you!”

(The lady sprints inside.)

Group: “Erm… What just happened?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

(Fifteen minutes later:)

Me: “Here she comes; don’t get close to her.”

Lady: *yelling, from a distance* “I’M CALLING THE COPS FOR ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT!”

(She never called the cops.)

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