I have been both a Democratic and Republican election judge in my county for the past ten years. I initially became one during a period between jobs, for the money, and to address a shortage of judges. In the last election cycle I was Democratic Chief Judge for my precinct. I have been active in politics since 18, when I was first eligible to vote. I have voted in every election since. I intend to continue to vote, but a recent letter for my county Elections Board inquiring if I still want to be an election judge has me considering that question more seriously than I had anticipated.
For those of you who have not been an election judge before, allow me to summarize: It's a 16 to 20 hour day, you usually cannot leave the poll the entire day. You are paid, but not terribly much. You do get to meet all
your neighbors. You will be expected to be able to resolve any complaints immediately, and without fear or favor to any party. You will face all sorts of problems that will not be covered in the judge's manual. (Not even the Chief Judge's!) By the end of the day you will be exhausted, regardless of how energetic you are, and that's when you have to be at your most mentallly alert to certify the vote count.
I should confess that one of the reasons I stayed an election judge was the passage of HAVA
, because I am a life-long computer geek. Most election judges in my county (and I suspect this may be true nationwide) are older folk. Most of them are not very computer-facile, in fact most of them don't own one themselves. My county now uses the Diebold AccuVoteTS machines, and the Diebold electronic pollbooks. I cannot count the number of times in the last election cycle I was called on to reboot the latter, and I happen to agree with Avi Rubin's
assessment of the current state of electronic voting.
I am looking forward to this coming cycle knowing it will be one of the most tumultuous in recent memory. In the last cycle, we lost judges right and left just prior to the elections. I had to scramble to fill my slots in the days immediately before with my friends and my wife, all of whom cheerfully and willingly volunteered. They still will, which leaves me feeling just a touch of guilt for thinking about bailing. I submit to you all: Should I stay or should I go?