Tomorrow I work the polls for the California Statewide Direct Primary Election.
And I don't mind admitting: I'm a little bit frightened about it.
Don't get me wrong: It's not the election itself I'm frightened about. Nor being face to face with any voters who come in. The long hours? Pish, posh ... not a worry. Possible boredom? Nah ... I'll have pad and paper at the ready during any lulls. I'm good.
It's some of the people I may be working with I'm sketchy about. Let me give you a few for instances ...
During training, I had some questions of the speaker conducting the class. I raised my hand and asked my questions as they came up, one of which was:
"In the event of a person registered to vote doesn't have their California driver's license for identification or doesn't have one at all or doesn't know their social security number, are they allowed to vote provisionally?"
Simple enough, right? But ... not 10 minutes later, another question arose from a lady sitting a few seats to my left:
"What happens if someone doesn't have their license or their social security card to show you?"
Really? Was this woman paying attention during training? Was she there to actually learn anything with the goal of working on election day? Or was she there simply for the freshly-made blueberry donuts and a second cup of Joe? I stared at her for sometime in disbelief.
More interesting still came the aftermath of discussion about those who didn't speak English or who may be more comfortable voting in Spanish. I was surprised to hear the response after the training speaker announced those folks would indeed be allowed to vote in Spanish, that it need not be in English.
Hearing this, there was a hushed but audible hiss in the room from various folks. Wow. I was genuinely taken aback by such an outburst, quiet though it was. Just as surprising were the low murmurs I heard complaining "If they're voting they need to do it in English!" and other similar comments.
These were some of the people overseeing the polls? I would be working alongside many who could potentially be called upon to assist voters in need, even if it was assistance on a non-English request? Would they react similarly if a voter was handicapped? Something else?
Voters have rights about this sort of stuff, don't they? Rights about a safe haven to vote, free from intimidation and influence and all that jazz. Right?
You bet your bippy they do.
Sure enough, not only is there a Voter Bill Of Rights readily available but doubly so on California Secretary of State Debra Bowen's website:
- Item #1: "You have the right to cast a ballot if you are a valid registered voter. A valid registered voter means a United States citizen who is a resident in this state, who is at least 18 years of age and not in prison or on parole for conviction of a felony, and who is registered to vote at his or her current residence address."
- Item #8: "You have the right to election materials in another language, if there are sufficient residents in your precinct to warrant production."
Rights such as these (and others) seemed common sense to me, especially if folks visiting the polls are registered voters.
So ... could there be drama at the old polling place Tuesday? There very well could be.
And not only am I curious to see what goings on could raise their ugly heads, I'm just a wee bit frightened of what my reaction might be toward any of those motorhead workers ...
.......... Ruprecht ( STOP with your prejudiced belly-achin' already ... ) 622