The subject line above is in response to the meme below. My short response? Bite me.
I just came off of a 15 hour election day. I’m not complaining. It is just a fact. It all started in September of last year when I was mouthing off here about doing one’s part. I put my money where my mouth was and, well, now I am officially an election official in my county. Whoopee.
It was not an easy road. My party head hemmed and hawed about being “full up” or whatever. Eventually he must have put my name in because I got a letter, did some online training, some group real-time in-person training, worked the primary (even though it was moot by the time primary day arrived – we still had to be there!), got more training, and worked Tuesday’s election. Now I’m ready for the brain dump.
First off all, I get paid. I wasn’t expecting that. It is a now a decent amount. They upped the ante for this last election. Previous officials got peanuts comparatively. We even get “paid” for training. What a joke. In lieu of the whole ten bucks (apiece) they are supposed to cough up, we get fed instead. Don’t get me wrong, the food is okay, pizza, usually. This last dinner was actually catered so I had a choice between chicken or ribs. It wasn’t great but it was okay. Anyway, I’m not doing this for free but when I signed up, I wasn’t expecting payment, my intent was to be a good citizen.
Now let’s talk about my coworkers. There were five of us working this polling center. Two from each party. Our chief is an Independent. While they try to balance the political leanings in each group, I don’t think it has to be entirely balanced. I’m not sure the law requires both parties be represented specifically.
As I said, our group is as balanced as they come. The other R in our group was new this election, replacing the R from the primary. She was a nice person but there was an issue with the facility that prompted her to ask for reassignment. So what about personalities?
Our chief is a dedicated gal, a hard worker and very conscientious. She’s also very helpful and giving. At our dinner she collected all of our plates and took them to the trash. She just does stuff like that.
The two D’s in the group are both women. (In the primary I was the sole male.) Both are black and both are very nice ladies. One is my age and another is a bit older, I think. Both walk with canes and/or walkers.
The other R in the group this time around is another man. It took me a bit but I finally realized I knew him. I worked on his computer a few years ago. He doesn’t live far from me. He’s a good guy also.
As a group we don’t talk politics. We have talked about a few issues around politics such as taxes, allocation of resources, and such. I can tell you that while we may not see eye to eye on all the issues, we are not all that far apart on any of them. One of the D’s is a former corrections officer. She was talking about the bears in her area keeping her from walking like she should so we got talking about her carrying a gun. She was not at all opposed to the idea. Her greatest concern was the prison Glock she had had too many safety features to be useful. Of course I enlightened her about her choices.
Summing up, while our group was mixed politically, we are all Americans. We were all there to do our jobs and our job was to help citizens vote and to ensure the vote was fair and accurate. Period. In fact, there is not a lot of room at Virginia polls for fraud. Period. At least not at the polling place I worked. Is it possible some polling places in other precincts could be sullied? I’d say it is possible, but not easy. Let’s talk about that, shall we?
Let me say first, as an election official, I am still a rookie and on the bottom of the pile at that. I worked at each station there so I can speak about such with confidence. Here, really the only real opportunity to nudge an election, voter-wise, is at the first station – the poll book. The poll book, ours is electronic, is what we use to verify the person standing in front of us is who they say they are AND they are duly registered. Ninety-nine percent (99%) fall into this category. Most hand over their photo driver’s license which is scanned into the system. A couple gave us a voter registration card, also scannable. Now I’d say these cards could be faked so there is a potential for abuse there, but it would take a pretty concerted effort. It is also possible for a voter to simply present a utility bill and vote – a far greater prospect for fraud. These can only vote once but, collect enough utility bills from enough registered voters and wholesale fraud could be perpetrated. I see little standing in the way of dead relatives or friends voting.
As I pointed out in one of our training sessions, much to the chagrin of the Electoral Board member present, our county is really far too small for anyone intent on massive fraud efforts. He said, correctly, that any potential fraud should be addressed. I agree entirely but I think he missed my point. Sure we should be aware and diligent about any fraud BUT I don’t see it as a festering problem in our county. Someone could flip the whole county to one side and it wouldn’t make a difference in a state or national vote count.
The other gaping hole in our voting system is registration Now Virginia does require a Social Security number to register to vote but I’m not convinced there is a foolproof method of validating this. The issue I raised above concerned bad addresses. If someone’s address is different than what our database says, all the voter has to do is sign a form indicating the correct address. I asked if anyone verified the address. Similarly, if election officials (and I mean those who are charged with validating voters at the system level) are not diligent about verifying eligibility or if the gatekeepers are not kept honest, there is room for fraud. Personally, I’m not convinced security is all that tight.
So let’s move on to the topic of the meme below – start arresting the poll workers and watch how fast they tell you who told them to cheat. Bite me. Granted there are instances, apparently documented ones at that, where poll workers are suspect. In those cases, by all means, hold them accountable and, yes, election fraud is a prosecutable offence. I am all for prosecution to the fullest. That said, most of us work hard on that day and we are diligent. Our job is is ensure those who vote are legally eligible to do so and every legal vote is counted. In our little group, we did our job admirably, if I do say so myself. Not one of us would even think of allowing cheating.
On the other hand, those who’ve been caught doing stuff they shouldn’t need to be dealt with swiftly and surely. When this hasn’t happened, the blame rests entirely on those charged with enforcing the law – on every level. If I were to observe fraud, I would report it and I would keep reporting it further up the ladder until someone acted. I would further expect those who did act to act not just on the original perpetrators but on every individual who turned a blind eye up the line. We cannot have this.
A final note. As I said at the beginning, my day was 15 hours on November 7, 2023. I hear other polling places break the job into shifts. We could not even if it were allowed. (I’m not sure if it is.) The bottom line is, more poll workers are needed. I doubt if our little county is the exception. Why not do your part? Too many gripe and whine about elections and election fraud. Of course our elections should be without question but how can this happen when polling places are understaffed or not properly represented? We invite fraud.
Contact your local Registrar. Put your name in to be an election official. Come on now, pony up.