I recently had the honor of serving as an election judge, at the precinct level, for the Republican primary, in the great state of Texas. I would like to share with you my observations and thoughts on events that occurred throughout the day.
First of all, while this is technically a paid position, no one does it for the money. The amount is small, the hours are long and you are subjected to a fair amount of verbal abuse.
The morning began with a bang as the polls opened at 7AM and we got the “before work” crowd. Everyone was in a hurry, drinking coffee, and rushing to get through the process, except for one man. He insisted that he must have a note to give his boss proving that he had been there to vote. I finally tore off a piece of notebook paper and wrote “John Doe voted at 0710 on 4, Mar 14”. I signed it and gave it to him and he seemed happy enough. I thought it rather ridiculous but sometimes you just have to do what makes the customer happy!
We had several comments during the day about requiring a state or federally issued photo ID before allowing anyone to vote. Not one of those comments was negative. Some people actually had to go back home and get them and still they did not complain. Every, single one smiled and said how happy they were that the law was implemented and that we were enforcing it.
We shared a room with the Democrats but had tables set up down the middle in an attempt to avoid confusion for the voters as to where they were to vote. We had separate entrances to the room, and we still had people attempt to vote in BOTH primaries. They would argue that they should be allowed to vote in both because they wanted to vote for Democrats on the state and federal level but since the local candidates were all Republican, well, they wanted to vote for them too. Try and explain that to an irate voter.
Shortly after lunch a Texas state election inspector showed up. After questioning him and obtaining proof that he was legitimate I gave him free reign to observe our procedures. He gave us high marks in all areas and was particularly pleased with set up of the room and the obvious division of parties we had established to make it easier for the voter. He went on to elaborate that our entire county was making every effort to ensure all polling areas were adequate and that all votes were properly accounted for.
One elderly man walked in mid-afternoon, looked directly at me and said, “Ma’am, I am a lifelong Democrat but I would like to vote Republican this year if I can. Is that OK?” I told him that he could vote in the primary of his choice. He then proceeded to proclaim that he had always believed the Democrats to the party of the working man. He stated that he now knew that was not true….and I finally got him quieted down in the middle of a string of expletives about our current administration. I explained that he could not voice his opinion within 100 feet of the polls and he apologized and told me it would not happen again. He then sat quietly and respectfully and cast his votes. As he was leaving he smiled and said “thank you for letting me vote on this side”.
While the overall experience was great, there was a sour note to end the day. To set the stage for this next occurrence, I want to remind you that I was in a small town in East Texas. We do not have voting machines. Everything is done manually. We had less than 600 people vote in the precinct where I worked and that included both parties. On the “other” side, a woman came in, showed her ID, picked up “a” ballot and proceeded to the private area to vote. As she was placing her ballot(s) in the ballot box the other judge serving the Democrat party, noticed that she had two ballots and stopped her. The woman immediately became defensive and her first story was “they stuck together” when she picked up a ballot. When the judge took them from her and pointed out that she had filled out both of them, the woman then changed her story to “I thought I was supposed to fill out two”. The judge told her she could only keep one and gave the woman a choice of which ballot to be destroyed. She then said “it doesn’t matter, they are both the same”!
And you wonder how fraud is committed in elections…