While America’s clingiest ex still isn’t quite convinced, the election is over and Bwog Staff Writer, Elena Christenfeld, has the full rundown on her experience working 17 intensely caffeinated hours on election day.
5:32 AM: It is 5:32 AM. I went to sleep 4 hours ago. Help.
COFFEE COUNT: 1 (a black drip coffee; Colombian beans)
6:02 AM: I arrive at the Town Offices. I am joined by the rest of the election staff including our glorious Town Clerk (see my next post for my love letter to this woman). Our police escort is ready to go; I’m not precious cargo but ballots are.
6:05 AM: After a very exciting 3-minute drive, we arrive at the polls. I guess this is the official start to my 12+ hour election adventure?
6:10 AM: We set up the Clerk’s Station, and I put on my name badge: “Assistant Town Clerk.” Quite literally the single classiest moment of my life. In all future interactions for the rest of time, I will now exclusively respond to my official government designation.
6:15 AM: Our first round of volunteers are sworn in. I rate the election swearing-in high on the list of classic oaths, maybe slightly below “so help me god.”
6:50 AM: I set up the ballot tabulator for Precinct One (think a district for voting). The tabulator is secured on top of the ballot box and records each vote. For any Sharpie-Gate believers: let me be clear, the tabulator is definitely smarter than you, and it will not read ambiguous marks (like those from a pen seeping through the ballot).
7:00 AM: The polls officially open, and I finish a room temperature Dunkin hot coffee. This may be my lowest point all day.
COFFEE COUNT: 2
8:23 AM: It is 8:23 AM.
8:25 AM: It is now 8:25 AM, and I feel like I’m falling into the well-known election time warp, or abyss.
COFFEE COUNT: 3 (a second Dunkin black coffee, this time hot and infinitely better than the first)
9:05 AM: A citizen needs help! And I’ve been put on the case: Divorced woman, an inactive voter (this normally means a voter has not returned the town census) without proof of residency but with some incredible acrylic nails (I make a comment and we bond despite my own half-bitten off, unpolished nails). Every proof of residency she provides us with is in her husband’s name – the husband, as she constantly reminds us, whom she is divorcing. We send her on a trip to the Tax Collector’s office, and she returns with a water bill! Success, she can vote!
11:30 AM: I have been sent to order sandwiches. I call and talk to the store manager who then directs me to the kitchen manager when I ask if they can give us the fancy turkey. The kitchen manager directs me back to the store manager to find out pricing. The store manager sends me back to the kitchen manager to find out what’s on the vegetarian sandwich. This seems like a poorly designed management chain; where’s CWBS when you need them?
2:41 PM: A maskless woman terrorizes the polls, and I get screamed at. This, however, still pales in comparison to my 7:00 AM drinking of lukewarm Dunkin coffee.
3:46 PM: I spend some stultifying number of minutes talking to one of our volunteers about his watch. It’s not Cartier, but it is waterproof.
COFFEE COUNT: 4 (another black coffee, not Dunkin; tastes weirdly like soy sauce?)
4:32 PM: The volunteer name tags are in disarray. I spend 12 blissful minutes alphabetizing by last name. I will also use this moment to thank all our poll workers (and the nation’s poll workers). You are incredible humans.
5:51 PM: Someone makes a nice comment about my blazer. I respond with, “Thank you, it’s my mother’s.”
7:00 PM: Our local Postmaster comes to the polls with our one final mail-in ballot of the day. He tells us that he has just voted for the first time in his life. He is my hero.
8:00 PM: This is the moment that I’ve spent 50+ hours a week working for, the moment I sacrificed my French participation grade for, and the moment that my wonderful Town Clerk (think Amy Adams and Isla Fisher’s third doppelgänger) has devoted her last two months to: it is time to close the polls. I once again take Precinct One and close the polls on the tabulator which prints two result tapes for the day. We then put in the memory cards from our early processing of vote by mail/early voting/absentee ballots and print those reports.
9:15 PM: After hand-counting any ballots which could not be read by the tabulator (which get placed in the auxiliary compartment on the ballot box) and recording any write-in votes (which get diverted by the tabulator into the write-in compartment), we pack up and leave our glorious polling location.
9:17 PM: The Associated Press representative records our tally. Six minutes later, our results are posted nationwide.
9:18 PM: We once again make the 3 minute drive back to the Town Offices, police escort and all.
9:53 PM: Our Town Clerk takes off her heels, a rarefied event done only at the final tallying on election nights.
10:23 PM: We have recorded each vote into the spreadsheet, accounting for the tape tally (the numbers calculated by the tabulator), the auxiliary compartment, UOCAVA ballots (overseas and active duty military ballots), and the write-ins. Each of these categories must be done for each precinct and split within each precinct by election day and early processing. Each number is repeated, checked, and verified many times.
10:42 PM: Our unofficial tally has been finished and will now be posted by me on the town website. The official election results will be certified by the State in the following weeks (after all Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots have been received and any ballots postmarked by the 3rd but received by the 6th have been recorded).
11:00 PM: The election results are posted to the website. It’s time to take my (metaphorical) heels off.
Image via Bwarchives