I was a first-time volunteer inspector on Election Day at the Sag Harbor Firehouse polling place, which was a wonderful experience, seeing more than a thousand of my neighbors carefully filling out their ballots and proudly voting.
There were, however, some glitches that I’d like to share.
First, although I volunteered by mail many months ago, I was called to service at 6 p.m. the night before the election — so I missed all the pre-election training.
At 5 a.m., the young coordinator was trying to get us organized but found that opening up both the iPads (for the voter check-in) and the vote tabulators was a extremely complicated process. A smart young man who had worked for Obama was the only volunteer who could figure out how to “sync” the iPads, and it took so long that we opened 10 minutes late. An architect volunteer got the tabulators up and running.
My self-appointed job was sanitizing each privacy booth between voters, so I was moving around the floor a lot. (We also ran out of sanitation wipes at 2 p.m., so I went home to get my own stash to replenish that at the firehouse.)
Early on, I realized that the coordinator was telling voters they had to fill out every choice on the ballot. When I questioned her about it, she said I was wrong.
So I called the Board of Elections, who immediately called her. As I thought, you can fill out as much or as little of the ballot as you wish.
Though there was no overt electioneering by voters inside the firehouse, the deputy coordinator was loudly ranting and raving about how Dr. Anthony Fauci was a “liar” and a terrible man whom the president needed to fire. I call that electioneering — but the coordinator did not reprimand her.
When the polls closed at 9 p.m., we all did as we were told, reconciling the paperwork, as all ballots and booklets must be accounted for, etc. At 10:15, we were still at it when I asked what had happened to the absentee ballots. It turned out they had been forgotten — they were in a machine that never got plugged in at 5 a.m. Luckily, they could be counted by hand.
I’m very glad I volunteered and was happy to see so many fellow residents doing their civic duty by volunteering and voting. I would do it again.
But the Board of Elections must ensure that coordinators are fully trained before Election Day. The problems I saw were all preventable.
Having said that, how lucky are we to be in our little village, populated with people so courteous and kind, no matter what the political persuasion.
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