Once a year, I force myself into interacting with the public. I signed up to be an election judge. Despite the name, the only people that I judge are the people I work with.
I love the election process. It's very part of being an American, plus I'm hoping it'll get me jury duty too. But so far, it's just a very frustrating day once a year. 2010 brings me 2 of these unfortunate days in Maryland.
Yesterday was one of these days. I went to setup on Monday to help speed up Tuesday morning and not having to show up at 4AM. We all had training between two weeks to a month ago. I can't believe that this is enough time to FORGET THE WHOLE PROCESS of what you are to do on this day. And how is it that you didn't review the steps in the manual that you got from the class before coming to setup?
Ok, so got through that night. You didn't know/remember what was happening, so you go home and open the manual and flip through it right?
NO!! It's like it's all new again. Our Chief Judge which I have worked with before and I had hoped my reassignment would move me away from her, but lo and behold, SHE'S BACK!! And still as unprepared as before!! HOW CAN YOU FORGET THE WHOLE PROCESS?!?! YOU'RE IN CHARGE?!!?!
So I spend all day telling her what her job is while being nice to all the voting citizens of Crofton, which you would think would be my biggest problem, but not so much. Our "chief" was reading the instruction manual OUTLOUD with pollworkers and voters around. REALLY?? Can't you at least pretend you know your job around the public? I guess I should be happy she finally decided to read the instruction and manual.
This frustration was multiplied by the rule that we weren't allowed cell phones in the voting area. I didn't think it was a necessary rule, but I was forced into compliance because I was in a concrete bunker that killed my cell phone battery in the matter of 3 hours. I lost 2 bars in the span of the first 2 hours. I should have known then that it was a bad sign but I was determined to find the sweet spot of the room. I did not find it, so I spent my breaks in my car with the car running to try to charge the phone back to life since I didn't being a wall charger thinking I didn't need it.
OHHH and the Board of Elections added a new position this year, the Tech Judge. This person is in charge of all the electronics and mechanical devices in case anything goes wrong. Our Tech Jugde was a lady who was in her late 70s which doesn't mean she couldn't do the job, BUT SHE DIDN'T OWN A CELL PHONE OR A COMPUTER OR KNOW HOW ANYTHING ELECTRONIC WORKED!! How can she get assigned such a job and go through training and the people not realize this might not be such a good idea??
The lesson should have been that I shouldn't do this anymore, but I instead I want to teach these people to be more efficient. I'll see how it works in November. It's like my personal psychological experiment. We'll see what these people remember in 6 weeks.
I always thought that my biggest problems with this job was the talking from the old people and that was a barrier. I spent 15 hours with my counterpart Unit Judge (we walk and show the voters how to use the voting machines and vote) and somehow he managed to tell me ALL his stories TWICE in this time. I hope he does something really exciting in the next 6 weeks because I'm going to do something to stop his stories again. I think it might be too late to play my "huh? I only speak Chinese" card.