The Lady Speaks

Primary Day – From the Inside

As I have the previous two elections, I spent yesterday working the polls. For the first time, we reported to the Board of Elections in Towanda before 11pm!

Yesterday was the primary, with (mostly) Republicans and (some) Democrats trying to earn a place on the ballot in November.

Here’s a few inside observations:

1) People from both parties were fairly disgusted by the race for sheriff.

I heard this from people from both parties, all age groups, first-time and long-time voters. As one woman said, “We’re used to this in national politics, but local politics used to be about issues.”

Unsurprisingly, Sheriff Steve Evans won the party’s nomination in a landslide. I imagine that when the write-in votes are tabulated, he’ll have a large majority of Democratic votes as well.

I would say close to 70% of the voters we saw asked about doing write-in votes, and from what I saw of the print-outs, there was a larger than usual number of write-ins.

2) There needs to be an increased effort to register younger voters and then get them to the polls.

The majority of voters in my district (and probably the others) are over 60. We had a good number of 40- and 50-somethings, but there was an extremely low turnout in the 18-30 and 30-39 age brackets. There were only four 18yo first-time voters.

3) For the first time in recent memory, nearly identical numbers of Republicans and Democrats showed up to vote.

This is according to the other poll workers, who’ve done this for more than 12 years. Usually primary turnout is about 2/3 Republicans and 1/3 Democrats, mostly because older voters are the ones who turn out for primaries, and they tend to be overwhelmingly Republican.

4) The candidates (and their supporters) were more aggressive this year.

Not only was the run-up to the primary more aggressive and hostile, but those who waited outside the polling places to push their name (or their candidate’s) were more aggressive.

Four times, we had to send our constable out to back them away from the door. They were literally forming a gauntlet that voters had to walk through, shoving cards and flyers at them, and scaring the wits out of some of our elderly voters.

Last, but not least of my observations:

5) Someone who voted yesterday is a thief.

Because the sun was shining brightly yesterday morning when I left home (boy, was I running late!) I still had my sunglasses on my head as we opened the polls. When I realized this, I took them off and set them on the table next to me with my water bottle, where they stayed for the next two hours as I worked one of the voter-tally books. At some point, after I’d moved to working the cards* someone stole my sunglasses off the table. I didn’t realize it until I got my break and went to get my water off the table. The water was still there, but my sunglasses were gone.

– – –

* We have one “Voter Access Card” for each of our machines. During primaries, these cards are programmed by party (1 for Dem, 2 for Rep, 3 for all others) so that the proper ballot comes up when the cards are inserted into the voting machines. We have to program them for each voter that comes through.

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May 16, 2007 - Posted by | Pennsylvania, Politics

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