I've missed my calling--I am a natural born election clerk/inspector. I had so much fun working at the election poll yesterday (but too little time to bask, since Kerry conceded by 8:30 this morning). I got there about five minutes late at 6:35 a.m. and it was chaos. I got out my paperwork to make sure I was in the right place and wondered what those 15 other people were going to do when the most it really takes is six. "Am I going to get to go home" fleeted deliciously in my brain. It turns out that there were two precincts at one location, but the other inspector with all their supplies had not yet arrived. My inspector for the Green precinct (a very quiet guy, obviously uncomfortable with the mantle of power) had arrived at 6:00 a.m. and had completely set up using the entire room (Green 1, Orange 0). The Orange inspector showed up and with a flourish had all his equipment in the room with no place to put it. A young gal with an official looking badge said that she was from the election board and that she was there to make sure everything went ok since we had two precincts at the same location. I figured, she's getting paid more than me, let her figure out how to fix the room and get Orange set up. That lasted about 10 seconds as she was also completely incompetent and it was by now 6:45 a.m.. A very officious older woman was scolding the Orange inspector and critizing loudly that this was terrible--the voters are coming in at 7:00 and nothing's done--we can't open. Well that was the end of my 10 seconds worth of patience, so I took over--move this table over there, the booths go here, lets get this stuff moved--go, go, go. In the absense of leadership, power goes to the person willing to take it. I came, I saw, I conquered. Shortly thereafter every person came to me for answers--what position should I take, how do I do this, when is my break, etc., etc. By the end of the night, they were all (including the inspectors) calling me boss (and a few times Captain).
We opened on time to a long line of voters (mostly for Orange as it turned out) and soon my officious old lady was handily dispensed to the door and not letting more than ten people in at a time. We had two high school kids working and I soon had them busy giving people their breaks. The least competent were put on the easy jobs (that they made seem very difficult) and the most competent were put in flexible positions. I expected it to get busy between 12 and 2 so I scheduled the lunches before and after. It didn't get busy. I expected it to get really busy from 6 to 8, so all the dinner breaks had to be done before 6. It never got busy. There was a fairly steady stream of two or three at the table and the booths were full once in a while (there were a lot of propositions to read if you weren't prepared--some people were in the booth for almost an hour), but it never got really busy. The biggest hold up was the chatty lady checking people in, so I started devising methods to move people away from her like asking her a question or physically removing the book from her hand to take the next person myself. At 7:30 p.m., I told the high school boys they could go home (we had one voter from 7:30 to 8) and then I said, oh, I guess the inspector has to tell you it's ok to go. The Orange inspector went to dinner at 5 and got back at 7:45 (he had car trouble).
At 8, we closed up and our inspector disappeared taking all the signs down, so we took down all the booths and started the reports without him. When he came back I made him walk through the steps and sign where indicated and then we opened the ballot box to organize the cards. I had everyone working on counting the signatures and ballots and organizing and I looked over at Orange--they hadn't even started their report, so I went to their table and got them started--told their inspector to sign where indicated and got their ballot box opened and assigned their workers to counting. Once they were underway, I went back to my crew--our count was off, so I had them recount. Long story short, Orange finished first (after I helped them) and their count came out right, while we were still off. (Orange wins).
Everyone was so nice and grateful to me for being there and taking charge. It was fun. And I saw a lot of people I knew at the polls. I even saw one of my girl scouts, who had been one of my first juniors. I don't think she recognized me, but I knew her. Later her Mom came in and we commisserated at how those kids had the audacity to get older. It was a really nice day. Boy my feet hurt.