The big mid-term election was yesterday (duh) and if you’re tired of hearing about it and politics in general, then congratulations, you’re probably a white person. I hope you have to climb a wall of dicks without using your hands.* I’m gonna talk politics, but about something you might not have considered before: things that happen at a polling station. On a busy day like yesterday there are many stories behind the votes, and I think you might enjoy some of them.
First off, a brief explanation of what it’s like to be a polling station worker, from my experience. You arrive at 6am and have an hour to set up the station. Your station is open from 7am-8pm and you are there the entire time. You then take an hour to wrap it up and leave around 9pm, so it’s a 15-hour day. On days like yesterday it goes much faster than you think. I estimate that my polling place had around 1,500 people vote, which may not seem like much but I live in a podunk town. So, you have 1,500 people voting in 13 hours, and you see all sorts of people. I’ll tell you about a few of them now.
The attention-seeking assholes. We had ours about an hour after we opened. This guy had on a “Trump 2020” t-shirt and an American flag bandana. He reminded me of this guy, he even had the same mustache:
CA law is that when you’re in a polling station, you cannot wear anything that endorsed a particular party or might be deemed offensive. They even give us aprons to offer to voters to use while they’re voting. Of course, this guy wasn’t having it. I was the clerk for voters with last names starting with G-N, and of course this guy was in my group. I told him he’d have to cover up and he whipped out his phone and started yelling. “I know my rights! San Bernardino County can’t overrule the Supreme Court of the United States! I have the article right here that says I can wear whatever I want!” How convenient that he just happened to have that article queued up on his phone. This went on for about a minute and then I kicked him over to my supervisor, and he continued yelling. Eventually, we just let him vote to get him the fuck out of there. The joke is on him, though: After he turned in his ballot I shredded it! OK, not really, there is no way I’d do that. I was a clerk and had nothing to do with ballots after I handed them out. I just paid the girl who was monitoring the turned-in ballots $20 in non-sequential unmarked $1 bills and she did it for me. The young work for cheap.**
The clerk who worked next to me (“A-F,” as I will always remember her) later told me “I had that guy at my station two years ago and he did the exact same thing. He just wants the attention.” Yup.
The Stoners. We had at least four people come in to vote who must have smoked right before they came in to vote, the weed smell on them was unignorable. So were the bloodshot eyes. Now, this may come as a surprise to you, but two of them had to redo their ballots because they messed up their first ones. Shocking, I know!
The Just-About-to-be-Divorced. My voting roster had the names of all of the voters from G-N. Obviously, this includes many families and therefore many people with the same last name and address. Around 4pm I had a guy sign in to vote. He saw the name above his had already signed to vote, looked at me, and said “Ah, I see my soon-to-be ex-wife has already voted. That bitch.” I gave him the slightest of nods as I handed him his ballot.
Later in the evening, a woman came to our table and loudly announced, before anybody can say anything to her, “I know I have to vote on a provisional ballot. My soon-to-be ex-husband knows I’m a mail voter and he threw my ballot away just to be a dick. I hate him, he’s an asshole. I know I have to do a provisional ballot!” As she filled out her ballot (filling out a ballot with the provisional paperwork takes about 20-30 minutes) she would, to remind us she was still there, grace whoever was listening (we all were but we acted like we weren’t) with comments like “he’s gonna get what’s coming to him, oh yeah” and “I have a really good lawyer, I’m gonna clean him out.”
The Names. If you know me, you know that I love rooting for underachieving sports teams, and I love names. Working at a polling station is a wet dream if you love names. There were some great ones yesterday. I had a couple of people with the last name “Mantooth” vote, and I couldn’t help it, I gushed to them about how much I loved their last name. Creepy, I know, but they were good sports about it. Come on, they’re Mantootheses! Of course they’re good sports! If I ever change my name, Dirk Mantooth is one of the top options.
Later, I had a (not the, of course) Janet Jackson sign in to vote. When she told me her name, I imagine I looked a bit like this:
It took every ounce of my willpower not to say “I’m nasty, so I’ll call you Ms. Jackson.” I regret not saying it, even though I’m sure she’s heard some variation of that at least a thousand times. I should have been 1,001.
And finally, the best name of the night goes to…and, I didn’t even to get to check him in because he was at “A-F”…a young lad by the name of Chance Fox. Chance Fox is the best name since Max Power or Guy Incognito. That kid is born into adventure and his life has to be epic at some point. We will hear about him sometime in the future, doing something great. Chance Fox!
The Closers. Anybody who works in a retail store that isn’t open 24 hours knows about the closers. They show up five minutes before closing and they keep you there late. Last night we had a guy show up at…wait for it…7:55pm and he wasn’t done with his ballot until 8:20. I feel like he should have a Budweiser “Real Men of Genius” song written about him.
I’m sure there were more memorable people, but it was a long day and not everyone can be Chance Fox. I’d highly recommend that if you ever have the opportunity, you work at a polling station once in your life. It’s not just old people (we were 40% people who couldn’t drink yet) and boredom. There are a lot of stories out there.
*= Not an original, I read that somewhere online a while ago and it stuck with me
**= While the young do indeed work for cheap, I probably didn’t really do that