I am writing this quickly to try to remember everything. I am also pretty tired after a long night tonight and so I apologize for any grammar and spelling errors. Also, make sure to read my previous post before reading this post to get all the info in the correct order.
WOW, this was quite a night! I arrived at my voting site at 6 pm, 30 minutes before voter registration and sign in was scheduled to begin. There was already a huge line. I was lucky to get the last parking spot in the parking lot.
There were two lines, the shorter line for people already registered as Democrats and the longer one, where I stood for those not yet officially registered as Democrats. Obviously, you already had to be registered to vote to participate. I started to laugh to myself about Jill’s “circus comment” (see comments from previous post). Besides the lack of organization with the possibility of people in the crowd getting upset, the only thing close to a “circus” was the one interesting woman with purple hair. Purple sweater, shirt, skirt, and hair!
The lack of organization and preparation for this large crowd was obvious. It made me think of some of the disorganization I have experienced in Italy. A couple of people were flipping out about waiting in the wrong line with no signs posted, but other than that, it was pretty peaceful.
It took me 30 minutes to get to the front of the line where I then registered and got my little name tag with my district and precinct written on it. Once I got my name tag, I was shown to my district’s room (there were two districts voting at this site). Inside the room, there were five tables. I was from the largest precinct. Our one little table was not large enough.
One person started to read some of the instructions and there was continued chaos as to what to do. We finally realized that we had to wait til 7pm to begin. We were told at 6:50 that we needed to elect a president, vice president, secretary, and I believe one or two delagates from each precinct. We also needed to choose a “conveener”. This person would run the election for the precinct, which included having everyone sign in, handing out the ballots, collecting the ballots systematically, and then putting them in the official envelope. Later the conveener would also call out the names on each ballot while another person would tally the votes.
At first, no one volunteered. I thought to myself, how hard could it be to be the conveener and so I raised my hand and volunteered. I also thought it would be cool to actually be able to call out the names on the ballots when the counting began.
The ballot procedure started out pretty smoothly, but it did become a little stressful at one point when a whole new group of people arrived that did not understand the process and just wanted to get their ballots, vote, and leave. The people that arrived at 6:30 ended up waiting more than an hour to get in the door.
My job required that first, I obviously did not lose any ballots, and second, that each ballot corresponded to a name on the sign in sheet. There were three or four people that observed me to make sure I did not screw up and there were also a couple of people that helped me make the ballots once we ran out of official ballots, which we ran out of after about 20 people voted.
Because of the lack of organization and preparation for the number of voters that showed up, we ran out of both ballots and official sign in sheets. Someone found a bunch of blank paper. We kept some for the sign in sheets and some for the ballots which we ripped up into ballot shape squares. We then wrote the district/precinct on each and handed them out as ballots. I did not save a blank ballot and so we wrote the names that were on the official ballot onto the back of the big official envelope that the smaller envelope sealed with all the votes would later go into.
There was one thing that happened that just amazed me. I gave a woman that arrived later in the evening a blank ballot. I then explained to her as well as a few others how to vote. I told her that because we ran out of official ballots, she needed to write the name of the person she wanted to vote for on the blank ballot and then turn it back into me when I called her name. I showed her the list of names from the original ballot that we wrote on the big yellow envelope as an example. She then, instead of writing a name on her ballot, checked off Hillary Clinton’s name on the big yellow envelope!!! Like that would be her ballot!! Maybe I was just really tired, but I was stunned by her action. It really just made me shake my head in amazement.
At 8:30, after the last voter voted, we began the count.
Here are the results from the votes I called out from my precinct:
Obama 61 / Clinton 24
At that point, I just couldn’t leave without seeing the final count.
Obama 137 / Clinton 62
And, the two districts combined:
Obama 478 / Clinton 186 / Kucinich 1 / Uncommitted 3
Now someone had to be pretty committed to vote uncommitted since the wait was 30 minutes to over an hour!
I left at nine pm when the final votes were all tallied together, energized, hopeful, excited, and feeling like I did my patriotic duty. For the first time ever, my vote really counted!
…I just heard an explanation about the Hawaii caucus process. Pretty funny!! The reporter (not from Hawaii but from the mainland) was saying that we would be raising our hand to vote – NOT, and that it would take a while to get the results because some of the islands are pretty remote – as if we don’t have phones, computers, etc! The only reason it is taking a while to get the results is that the voting started at 7 pm which means midnight on the east coast. This guy probably thinks we live in grass huts!!