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A Pollworker's Report from the Field during Recent Florida Primaries

By June B, Florida  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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First, I want to thank you for your tireless efforts to awaken voters. I also wanted to let you know that I did serve as a pollworker in my precinct's primaries here in FL. The most notable things were that out of approx 1200 eligible voters in our precinct, we had 346 votes cast. Moreso, only 6 of these were on the touch screen. When given the choice of the "easier" touch screen or the paper ballot, people overwhelmingly chose the paper ballot, which was read by an optical scanner. Even those with disabilities refused the easier way.

BTW, the pollworker who was specially trained to help people use the touchscreen was a registered Republican who was personally invited to serve as the precinct's touchscreen clerk. She didn't know why she got selected for that task among all the other volunteers. She said that people had better get used to it because according to the supervisor of elections in our county, within 3 to 5 years the election board is going to provide only touch screens, no more paper. The Clerk (a democrat) said that was too bad we wouldn't have a choice anymore. Of course we can't talk politics in the polling place, but I later suggested to her that it is a citizens election, not a government event. We tell them who we elected, not the other way around, and she suggested that we could circulate a petition for a county referendum on the issue.

Another man came in on his half-hour lunch break and asked why Election Day is not a federal holiday. He wanted to vote on election day because he wanted his paper ballot to count. Early Voting in FL is done solely by touch-screen and Absentee Voting raises fears about absentee ballots not being counted. After he left, I wondered the same thing--why on earth don't we make Election Day a federal holiday.

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So, I in my midnight musings, I began to ask a few things.

1. What will it take to make Election Day a Federal Holiday? Do we have to wait for a politician to bring it to supreme court, or can citizens petition for this to be considered?

2. What will it take to have a nationwide referendum on the need for paper trails?

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3. Is anyone proposing a constitutional amendment to update the process outlined 200+ years ago. Thirteen politicians riding by horseback to announce the wishes of their state was alot more conducive to obtaining immediate results than it is now. If it takes 5 days to count the ballots, so be it. They don't go to a major election or take office for months, so what's the rush? I'd rather have an accurate count that is late than a hasty one that is on-time.

I am not an attorney, as you can probably tell, so please bear with me. However, I really think these issues need to be addressed on a national scale, ie. Supreme Court level. It is almost impossible to monitor every county in America. Just like 2004....everyone was watching Florida, but this time it was Ohio that gave the knockout punch.

The rejection of touch-screen voting and questions that voters ask suggest to me that there are more voters on board with these ideas than are able to actively participate in the process. If people already would favor these things, what format would best allow them to be heard? (Please don't tell tell us to write more letters to our officials...it needs to be more visible, widespread, and publicly accountable than that. I'm thinking maybe national petitions or something that the press can follow publicly.)

Thank you for listening. I am doing a tiny fraction of what you are doing and feel frustrated and tired. But I have endurance and a desire to not lose the freedoms that were so hard-won.

A million thanks and a hug,

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