Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Voting - Did you know?
Here's some helpful information to prepare you for voting season.
Everyone knows that there is no longer a polling location at Jack London Square or the old fire department near Beverages & More, right? Just checking. It seems voters showed up there back in June, even though those haven't been valid polling locations for quite some time.
If you've moved, even within the same county, you need to re-register to vote. You can register through October 20th to be eligible to vote in the November 4th election. Register online here.
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is still looking for polling location help, so if you want to earn a few extra dollars for working on election day, here is where you can go online to register for that.
Be sure to look at your Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet, which not only prepares you for all the different races being voted in, but also on the back has your current voting location. Since many voting locations have changed recently, PLEASE check this so that you're ready on November 4th. For example, in Tower Lofts, our polling location is listed as:
Your precinct has no poll place. Vote and return ballot by mail.
I'm not sure why we have no polling location, because I certainly tried to get us one and even thought we had it covered, but I guess I have to keep working on that. If no polling location is listed you MUST vote by mail using the ballot they have sent to you.
Here in Allegro's Building C (where Jack London Mail resides), the polling location is 189 Third St in the space adjacent to the Allegro gym. (Third & Jackson) I thought it would cover more of the neighborhood than it apparently does, but oh well. Don't assume that this is your polling location - check first!
If you don't have your pamphlet available, you can check online as to where your polling location is, although it says on the website that you need to wait until 15 days before the election.
I recently took a class to become a polling location inspector (glorified name for supervisor for the day), and I learned some interesting things that I thought I'd pass on.
Wearing a candidate or issue t-shirt, button, hat, etc is considered electioneering and not allowed within 100 feet of a polling location. If you should end up wearing such items, as polling location workers we are supposed to ask you to remove them or cover them up. A t-shirt can be turned inside out.
If you are registered as a vote by mail voter, you can still vote at your local precinct (if you have one), but it will be on a provisional ballot, not a regular ballot. You could also take your ballot by mail to the polling location to dropoff, but if you don't have the envelope to send it in with it, you will use a provisional ballot.
And voting machines! I learned a lot about voting machines. First, I know that many people are skeptical of them. But the ones in Alameda all come with a paper trail. When you vote, you can see a summary of all your choices on paper (to the left of the screen), as well as on the screen. You can even go back and change something. When finished, the paper goes to the next blank area so the person after you doesn't know how you voted.
The paper ballots get scanned, but how do you know what they scanned? You can't review what the scanner read compared to how you voted, even if there is a paper trail.
But here's the insider scoop about the voting machine. You have to ask to use it. As a poll worker I can't point it out to you, I can't offer it to you if there's a huge line waiting to vote, etc. YOU have to ask for it. And, if only four people use the machine throughout the day, those four votes won't be counted. You have to have at least five people use the machine in order for the votes to count. Their reasoning is that if you only have one person use it, then you know how that specific identifiable person voted based on the final report for the machine at the end of the night.
I thought this was bizarre because I know someone asked me last year to use it, but apparently that was illegal.
The Alameda County Registrar is expecting a 90% turnout in voters compared to only a 30% voter turnout in June. I hope that Alameda County can beat that 90% prediction!