more democracy hangs by a threadPosted: November 4, 2012
As a new face at the BOE ( board of elections ) I noticed people shutting their desk drawers whenever I walked past. I cornered Fred, an old veteran there who I was consulting with and asked what was going on. “Oh, nobody knows you yet and they are all political appointees who don’t have anything to do so they read books but keep them in the drawer. When someone they don’t know comes by, they just close the drawer.”
How long is lunch
We were consultants, billing out at a good rate so every moment counted, and we were all business. We had a set number of hours to get the system up, data from the old servers converted, and the employees trained. We needed to work closely with Dan but every day he would disappear for about three and one half hours. Once more to Fred, “Oh yeah, I think he runs a side business, but nobody can touch him”.
It takes time to get things ready for an election. That’s why they have deadlines. The ballot needs designed, voters registered, poll books and eligible voter lists printed, tables and voting machines to be tested and ready for shipment. There are loads of temporary workers, and everybody ( even appointees ) pitches in. If a ballot box is misplaced, it is perfectly believable there is so much going on in such a short time. When back in the 2000 election there were issues like this in Florida, in my opinion it wasn’t a plot, it was just mistakes crazy busy people make.
Once when John McCain was running for president scores of democrat voters switched parties in the primary to vote for McClain, there weren’t enough republican ballots. The board had to make phone calls, find out where every extra ballot was and get it to the proper place. There is no accounting for people changing their minds at the last minute. Since then, even though it might be wasteful, they print extra ballots.
Fierce Old Ladies
Daily I’d walk past the office where the big computer screen is setup to allow for redistricting. This step lets whichever party is in power change the lines of the wards. For example, you might move the line over a few blocks and add a bunch of republicans to a ward, or move it another way and remove a bunch of apartments that are mostly democrat. The little old ladies that were ward leaders would be in that office just brow beating the director. We used to joke they were the fierce, feisty females, or the grim, grouchy, grannies.
So these are my stories, and why I sometimes tend to favor privatization, but I still have faith in the system because of the many election workers who are diligent and conscientious. I hope you vote because it matters. People need to vote their conscience. I feel that for all the characters I came in contact with, the BOE did as good a job as possible.
One last thing I learned is how important it is for newspapers and bloggers and us to hold government accountable.