Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Whew!

This will be a decidedly shorter post, despite the fact that I'm home about two hours before I was the last time. The reason for that is because, unlike last time, things went swimmingly at elections today. Our precinct (hooray for Woodmoor in Four Corners, even if I don't live there) had an unusually high turnout, with over 1400 people voting in an area that only has about 1100 households. We were consistantly busy almost all day, meaning I got no work done and I got to eat at 7:55PM. (We closed at 8.) I view this as an amazingly good thing: it means that people cared and cared hard. Perhaps it was because, for the first time in a long while, Maryland was actually in play this time around. Our two students, having gone through an exciting election last time, were almost disappointed that they got to do normal stuff this time around. At least one won't be back as a student volunteer... because she'll be 18 then and said she wants to now be a regular volunteer. Woohoo! Hooray for civic responsibility!

(Even better: as I type this, it appears that the good people of Pennsylvania have decided to finally clean the santorum off the Senate sheets.)

All this is not to say that things weren't exciting at out polling place. We did have the homeless man (living up to stereotypes, alas, for being drunk and crazy) who voted at around noon, then came back right before the after-work rush, claiming he hadn't actually voted. Some of my colleagues who lived in the area and knew he was (a) homeless and (b) that the house that was on the pollbooks had been sold to someone else a while ago wanted us to not let him vote; I, who processed him, felt that if he was on the pollbooks, he should be able to vote -- and so he did, the first time. The second time he came in, however, he claimed that he hadn't voted in one of the races and wanted to revote. When it was calmly explained to him that he had already voted, he became massively belligerent. Later, one of my colleagues explained to me that my usual method of dealing with angry people (smiling, reasoning, discovering how to assuage their fears) worked completely against me because my methods, alas, implies knowledge of logic. (I'm not kidding when I say that man was crazy.) We called 911 as we were trying to get him to vote provisionally which this time we knew would not count since he had already voted, but thought that it would get him to quiet down. His tirades at the entire polling staff were actually disenfranchising voters who were legitimately afraid to go in (not to mentione scaring the bejesus out of me and the other pollworkers, particularly when I realized that he wouldn't respond to normal methods). The police came quickly, however, and he was taken away in handcuffs, poor guy. Even as I was shaking afterwards, I still felt badly for him.

The best part? Our 12-year-old (male) helper arrived during all of this. (The custodian -- named Sonja, who is the best person ever -- had already gathered all the children from the hallways immediately upon finding out what was going on. "That's a code red," she later told me. "I don't care if school's in session or not. I just care about those kids not getting hurt." Can Xan go to the school this woman is at? Please?) I asked his mother to keep him outside for a while until things blew over (even though by this point the police had arrived); the boy, sensing excitement, insisted that they stay. Just like a 12-year-old.

Thankfully, the media stopped by long before this happen. (See, Priscilla? You missed out. WBAL got us on tape instead. I wonder if I came across as insightful or insipid...)

Oh yeah, and Marcy: The count was 22, almost all because of people who moved into the area and forgot to change addresses.

5 comments:

KC said...

You did well.

You could have SO taken the drunk guy though.

emptywheel said...

22?!?!?!?

I challenged at two precints. And they only had 1 provisional between them.

You're either not working hard enough to get them to their real voting location, or your SOS is less of a hard ass about forcing them to. My hero of the day is the young woman whose dad drove picked her up in Ypsi, drove to Detroit, to find she was registered in Ypsi, than back to Ypsi to vote. 100 miles of PTA schlepping to let your daughter vote.

Middento said...

Marcy: Sorry, but I refuse to be chastised be you. The large majority of the 22 were people who were in their correct voting jurisdiction but who were somehow not updated in the pollbooks, because they had recently moved and hadn't updated their driver's license or what-not. Maryland law allows this as a reason for provisional voting; to make them vote elsewhere would, in my mind, be disenfranchising them. And I'd much rather make sure that they get to vote than to have them not vote.

I agree, however, that the dad is a superstar for driving his daughter to the right place. I would have certainly done that. (Then again, our pollbooks do tell us exactly where everyone in the state should be voting, and I did send people away to their home districts if they were simply in the wrong place.

KC: Drunk guy, sure. Drunk and crazy? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear about the guy in PA who smashed an electronic voting machine, and then sat down to wait for the police to come?

Anonymous said...

I did get screamed at by a crazy guy in Bethesda because I was violating his rights by bringing a camera into the polling area. The election judge kindly intervened and pointed out that I did have permission and that I had stopped filming when he requested. I pointed out that if I were male, he would not have attacked me quite so personally.