Thursday, October 28, 2004

Kiss me! I'm...a poll worker

So. This election, I will not only be voting (YOU will too, right?), but I will also be working the polls. That's right, I have officially joined the exclusive ranks of the poll workers. In a USA Today article about the scarcity of poll workers, Barbara Jackson, Baltimore's director of elections, said, "The people we hire for the most part are elderly, undereducated, and frequently unemployed." In another article, she joked about the old age of poll workers: "The average age is deceased."

Well, I'm young, educated,, yeah. So she is right and funny. Though not a particularly effective recruiting tool.

I personally wanted to become a poll worker because I was concerned that long lines at the polls can often be a deterrent to actually voting. I know that some of my friends during the 2000 election, after months of bitching, decided that their one measly vote wasn't really that important when faced with lengthy waiting. I actually thought that I would be a volunteer, and so the more volunteers, the more help, the shorter the lines. Nope. Turns out I get paid--which is good and bad. Good incentive for working the polls, but can't flood the polls with extra helpful workers.

I view this as a volunteer opportunity, that just happens to come with a monetary bonus.

Part of the reason poll workers are in high demand this year is the record voter registration and anticipated high voter turnout. "It's wonderful, the interest [in voting]," Sacramento County's Registrar of Voters said (In this article by my beloved SacBee--When are they going to hire me?). "It's like they all want to come to the party this time."

But it seems that working the polls is not following the same trend. Campaigns to get high school and college students to help at the polls (and lower the average age of poll workers:72) are gaining popularity. My favorite? CSU Long Beach is using a t-shirt campaign with the slogan, "Love Me. I'm a Poll Worker"

Lesson for today:

If you're interested, also check out "Chronicles of a Poll Worker" on a far less jittery, spastic blog.
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