I had every intention of writing a post yesterday and posting it to the blog when I got home but then 815 people decided to come vote and I was busy from the time the doors opened until we closed and then some. I think it may have been the busiest and most insane day I've ever had at the polls, y'all! By the time I got home I just wanted to shut my brain down and go to sleep.
Per usual, I got to my polling location at 6:00 a.m. I served as inspector for this election as well. I think the inspector torch may have permanently been passed on to me which is just fine. I'm happy to serve and happy for the little bump in pay as well. I think I was the last one to the poll even though I got there at 6:00 and had woken up 20 minutes earlier than I had intended. All the folks that work with me are old enough to be my grandparents and so I suspect they are up this early every day. We put the finishing touches on setting things up and took the poll worker's oath and had about 20 minutes to sit and enjoy breakfast before the madness began.
At 7:00 a.m., when the polls officially opened, we had a line of about 10-12 people and when the doors opened, the line kept getting longer. People were fired up to vote. I had wanted to do two sets of books (clerks and voters list), but my top lieutenant (if you will) wasn't keen on that idea. So, I gave in on that one, but will not give in at the next general election because I think two books would have served us well. I've also got to come up with a better flow of traffic because it was often crowded and chaotic and the check-in and sign-in tables. It was good for me to see how things went so I can work to create a better plan for the next go-around. We were only given five voting booths, one of which we couldn't use because it had a set of short and long legs and therefore wouldn't stand up. So, we set up three additional tables with chairs for people to sit at and vote. I was concerned that people might complain about it because as you are probably aware some folks are super secretive about their ballots. However, it worked out great and people were thankful for a place to sit and fill out their ballots.
In addition to the masses of people coming in to vote, we had a new law to follow this go around which made the day even more insane that usual. In the past, if someone was registered in our precinct but had moved to a new address, we asked them to fill out an update form and let them vote. This time, as a result of a law suit that was filed in Mobile County, we had to send those people to what was now their correct precinct where they would be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. In turn, I had people sent to me who had moved into my precinct who came to vote provisional. The problem with provisional ballots is that they have to be approved by one of three members of the Board of Registrars and getting one of these three on the phone on election day was a nightmare. It's always hard to get one of them on the phone on election day but this time because of the new provisional law, it was 100 times worse. I had one gentleman wait a little over an hour before I finally was able to get someone on the phone to approve him to vote. I heard of another precinct who had someone wait two hours and 15 minutes. It was nuts! I spent 75% of my day on the phone and probably 90% of that time was dialing and redialing because the line was busy.
I think my favorite part of this election day was when a young man born in 1918 came in to vote. He was legally blind and his caregiver brought him to vote. Apparently he must have had differing political views than the caregiver or he didn't trust her because he asked for me to help him with his ballot. First, he had to vote a provisional because even though he had a card and a letter from the Madison County Board of Registrars stating that his precinct was #03, he was not on the Madison County voters list. This is still a complete mystery to me. At any rate, once he was approved to vote, he told me in a very loud voice (he yelled rather than talked because I'm sure he is hard of hearing) to just vote a straight Republican ticket. Then I read each of the amendments to him to which he would reply (very loudly) if he thought it was good or bad and to vote yes or no. I filled out his ballot for him and placed it in the ballot box and he was on his way. I got such a kick out of him and was so proud to see someone his age get out and vote. Ya'll know how passionate I am about exercising our right to vote and it just made me so proud to be able to help this man.
There were lots of other interesting and exhausting things that happened throughout the day and I probably couldn't recall them all if I tried. We had a man yell at us and call us liars and said the news station lied because he came to our precinct to vote but was registered at another precinct. We had another man make a loud and long announcement thanking us poll workers for our service, making it possible for him to vote. The man whose lone duty was to watch the voting machine let more than one person slip out the door before realizing the machine had rejected the ballot because of an over vote or some other such circumstance. We had 19 people mark a ballot incorrectly such that they had to be given a new one.
We were so busy throughout the day that we barely even had time to eat lunch. I had made potato soup and taco soup for my Bible study group on Monday night and made enough so that I could bring it for our lunch on Tuesday. Ruby, the lady who cooks for the church where we vote, made us some coleslaw and tea and she ate some soup too. We finally managed to eat in shifts, each getting about a 15 minute break. It was just a crazy day, y'all.
Overall, most of the workers pulled their weight. At the end of the night, we pulled out the ballots with a write in and spent the next 45 minuted filling out the write in forms and closing up shop. I think I was the fourth person the courthouse and would have been home about 8:15 except that I had to track down someone from the probate judge's office to get a work excuse. Usually a sheriff's deputy brings one by, but I guess everyone else's day was just as nuts as mine so no one brought one by In fact, we usually get visited by a deputy three or four times during the day and only had one visit this go around.
I finally made it home at about 20 minutes until 9:00 p.m. and was so glad to walk into my house, change into my pajamas and promptly crawl into my bed. I love our country and I love the freedom we have to get out and vote and choose our leaders and I feel so blessed and thankful to be able to watch the process each time and election rolls around and at the end of the night, that always trumps my exhaustion.