A week ago today, I worked the polls for Rutherford County's Republican primary. Because I never had. I've been working in politics (kind of, more or less) for about 15 years now, and I got my degree in Poli-Sci; seemed like part of the package to go on in and work the polling place.
I've lurked around them on election days before - doing GOTV stuff (including once nearly assaulting a person) and getting the numbers for reporting. The first time I ever did that part, I was with Mike Basford and one of the machines broke down and we had to wait for a dot matrix printout for an additional hour. Nerve. Wracking. Nothing about these interesting election experiences prepared me for the mind-melting monotony that is a primary one month after city elections that mostly no one cares about.
I was required to be there at 6 in the morning (which is early for a loyalty oath), because I had two responsibilities, "machine operator" and "computer / printer hook-up." This second one was referred to by the registrars as "IT guy," which I found terrifying because I am not one of those. I arrived and set up tables and then took the next 30 minutes or so setting up three laptops, mice and printers and networking them to the dedicated hub that I brought with me. Once everything was active, I helped set up the actual voting booths, which took longer than it should have. The two other machine operators were well past retirement age, and this may have contributed to the delay. By 7:05 we were ready to go, with the one hitch that we hadn't actually ENABLED THE MACHINES TO START VOTE COUNTING when the first guy tried to vote. I got that fixed in about 30 seconds and we were off to the races.
'The races' were thirteen hours with 122 voters participating. I did get a lunch, read two books, and there was one printer failure (toner cartridge which required an "unvote" of one person and took 15 minutes to fix) but otherwise, this was easily the most boring thing ever. And I had jury duty the previous week. I did help a bunch of people, and had to explain more than once what the advantage was of Democrats voting in a GOP primary. The high point of my day was when an olive-skinned man named Khaled Mohammed came to vote and I, observing his name, said, "Khaled Mohammed; that must be tough to deal with here." He appreciated my empathy and told me his story, stating that I had helped reaffirm his faith in the electoral process. Good times.
I'm glad that I did it, I'll do it again - I'm glad I'm not doing it again today.