Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Special Election....Election Special

Whenever possible, I work in a precinct on election day. For me, that means doing nothing the week before the election, other than update my "election kit", do food prep for me and the critters the day before the election, work the typically 15 hour election day (I try to make sure I work with an Inspector who knows what he or she is doing, so we aren't there till midnight, like some poor benighted precinct workers are), and then collapse for the following week as the pain slowly subsides.

No, I'm not an idiot or masochist, but I do try to do what I can. Back in the day, I volunteered to work for candidates whose message I liked, donated money to campaigns and candidates I supported, and in general did what I could do to further the process. I can no longer do those things, but I can do two stints a year in a precinct (polling place) during election years. So, by the way, can pretty much any registered voter: just contact your county (or local equivalent) registrar of voters office.

I registered to vote as soon as I could, but because I was out of the country during the first election following that, my first vote was cast by absentee ballot. My next was, too, as I returned to the U.S. just in time to start college in another state. After that, I voted at the precincts I was variously assigned to as a voter. I was struck by how, uhm, elderly the precinct workers were, and how...unfun it was. I usually went in the early morning or evening, before or after work. But, still...

When I started working as a precinct clerk during elections, some of the very old folks had retired, and some younger (comparatively speaking) started working, though most didn't seem to make a habit of it, working once, then never or rarely again.

I decided I would do what I could to make the experience a little more, what....fun? human? personal? for the early morning, lunch rush, hurrying to pick the kids up after school, before dinner, or OMG I almost forgot am I too late voters.

I picked up a basket on sale at Big Lots that has a US flag motif in faded country colors. That gets filled (and refilled) with candy, and is placed near the ballot box, so they can pick up a piece when they drop off their ballot and pick up their "I Voted!" sticker. This, by the way, is a great way to get rid of left-over Halloween candy.

Through the years I picked up US Flag-patterned pencils, erasers and pens. Those are brought to use. Since I go to the training classes held for precinct inspectors before every election (a great way to refresh my memory about what the heck I'll be doing again), I also get a cool new pin every year. I started pinning as many as would fit to my ID badge that I modified for re-use:

I am sooooo not a red-white-and-blue person. I mean, I wear blue jeans, occasionally a white tee shirt, and I knit that lovely red merino scarf, but wearing tees or sweaters or costume (or even real) jewelry, nah. But I felt I needed...something.

Schachenmayre came out with a line of Regia sock yarns that made broad stripes, in colors of country flags (and soccer teams). So, I made myself a pair of red-white-blue ones, but didn't like them.

Then, when helping my friend out with her store sale one spring a couple of years ago, she put a red-white-blue striped tape on sale. So, I bought some and knit a scarf. The mate of the sock pictured below is hanging in her store as a store model (Elf Hand Knitwerks, Rohnert Park CA). As you can see, Mike's taste is a lot like mine: he clearly prefers the scarf, too!

Oh, and I meant to add, about working on election day: I try to be cheerful all day - the voters don't need to deal with people as harassed or grumpy as they themselves often are. I've come up with some tools to help direct to the right place those who came to the wrong place, and I try to pronouce their names correctly.

That may sound simple, or stupid, but I am amazed at how many Americans don't pronounce names correctly, or even attempt to. It helps that I worked for nearly 20 years at a company whose employees came from around the world. But, still. Despite exposure, most of us suck at the pronunciation game. I wish CNN would run their commercial featuring Christiane Amanpour where she is trying to teach someone that it is Ear-ran and Ear-raq, not Eye-ran and


Blogger Knatolee said...

I have to say, that is one patriotic iguana you have there! :)

8:06 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Well, he's in the spirit now, but wait until election day when I'm up at 0430, gone by 0545, and not back home until 2100 or so. Then it's lizard food all over the kitchen, a bit of poop painting, and me spending the next several days recovering from election day and restoring things around the house to their usual organized clutter after ticked-off Mike's day of redocorating. Poor baby...election day is Nature's way of reminding him that, day-to-day routines notwithstanding, my life is not all about him. Well, not always.

See also The Iguana Way.

10:44 AM  

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