Guest blog: pollworker report from LA County (June 6, 2006)

By Anthony Leonard

My wife, Gretchen, and I were poll workers for the first time for the June 6 primary. Luckily we were assigned to our own precinct at the Pasadena Aquatic Center near the Rose Bowl.

The Saturday before we went to a briefing put on by the County Clerk’s office at the Westminster church in Pasadena for pollworkers. It was overcrowded but the County person did a fine job of covering the issues. It was announced that they still needed another hundred pollworkers in Pasadena alone.

On June 6 we arrived at the polling place at 6:30 am. The inspector and another clerk had set up the booths the day before.

According to our inspector approximately 900 registered voters are in our precinct and 200 to 300 of those had requested absentee ballots. In the end 144 regular ballots were cast along with six provisional ballots. A number of people also appeared to cast their absentee ballots. Two ballots were destroyed in the process of voting.

Of those casting provisional ballots, three were listed as being absentee voters who claimed that they did not receive their absentee ballots and the other three were not registered but claimed they should have been.

Every voter seemed to have no problem in getting the correct ballot and using the correct polling booth including the nonpartisan voters. A few (maybe five) had problems with the InkaVote system, either not inserting the ballot properly or trying to use the pen in the wrong spot.

Post election checks: (1) We counted 146 signatures. This should have equaled the number of regular ballots (144). The speculation was that two people who cast provisional ballots had signed in but weren’t supposed to. This could have been checked but wasn’t. (2) The number of regular ballots plus the number of provisional ballots plus the number of destroyed ballots plus the number of unused ballots should have equalled the number ballots originally supplied by the county. But we were missing one.

Our inspector was very experienced and efficient. We were done at 8:30pm.

Anthony Leonard is Professor (emeritus) at Caltech. Anthony wrote this essay and emailed it to me shortly after the June 6 primary, and in all honesty it got lost in my email … but he has promised to provide a similar essay after the November general election, as he is again going to to be working at a polling place in our area this fall. Thanks, Tony!