Elections in the News

The human factor

Most of the poll worker stories which popped up in the news, are positive. We found very few stories about problems with poll workers. This is a list of some of them:

  • Florida: A poll watcher said that due to breakdowns with voting machines, poll workers started issuing paper ballots and placing the votes in locked boxes. However, when they ran out of boxes, “poll workers started storing ballots in duffel bags or in piles on the floor.”
  • Virginia (Richmond): A polling place opened late because a poll worker overslept.
  • Indiana (Indianapolis): Two poll workers, a challenger and a clerk, were removed from a precinct. The first poll worker was challenging voters in an apparently unreasonable and partisan way. According to the WTHR’s story, “An election board spokesperson says because they signed affidavits under penalty of perjury this will be investigated by a grand jury.”
  • North Carolina (Raleigh): Voting was delayed in one precinct because “the chief judge forgot to take the ballots out of her grandson’s truck when being dropped off this morning. The elections director says the truck drove away, and thejudge wasn’t able to track down her grandson.”
  • Oklahoma (Pottawatomie): voters complained about a poll worker giving partisan advice. According to the secretary of the county election board, he was telling voters to “look under the eagle to find the straight-party areas” –the eagle denotes Republican candidates in the Oklahoma ballot.

Probably, the type of story which appeard more frequently is about voters complaining about poll workers making them fill provisional ballots for dubious reasons or by mistake — For example, this was the case in some polling places in Florida, Ohio and Washington.

The following story is about how some imagination can help solve problems:

  • Indiana:  When lines got long due to only two booths available for filling out paper ballots, poll workers decided to improvise.  They built three more booths out of card tables, chalkboards and cardboard boxes-and soon the line was gone!

Inés and Janell