Duties of an Election Judge

Cross posted at kos

What does an Election Judge do?

Welllllllll….. the Judge makes the Election process easier. The Judge is not supposed to hinder the Election process.

The Judge’s duties start well before the actual day of the Election. First, there is the training. My county used to give training at the County Offices or other large venue, like a Movie theater where a lot of people could be seated. Then the Judge would sit through a Powerpoint presentation of forms and machine assembly. Finally, a short quiz was given. Some places may still require this.

Now, the Judge takes the online course. It has about 5 parts and takes 4 to 6 hours to complete depending on the score one achieves at the end of each section.

Actually, I prefer the online test. One can do it over a few days at one’s own pace…. The test is better than the 10 question quiz given previously and there is a lot more covered. It also allows the Judge to review sections and retake the test to get a “perfect” score. And you can print out a fancy certificate to frame and put on your wall!!!!!

There is a booklet that can be downloaded and printed out for the judges. I recommend that every judge have a booklet for referral. They used to give every Judge a printed copy and some places may still do this.

I also volunteered to be a Judge at a local Nursing home on the Saturday before the Election. I figured it would give me some “experience” in the field before the Big Day. It did. I read the test to 10 of the 13 people who preregistered to take the test. I got a lot of experience filling out the “Assisted Voter” form. Of the other 3: one had passed on, one was in the Hospital and one could read it himself!

Of the 10, one needed to be awakened for every answer. One was 39 times 2 plus 8! He was just a young ‘un! The others all had trouble seeing or writing due to age and strokes.

The Night before the election, the Judges get together for an hour or two to set up! The voting booths have to be put together and arranged. The tables for the materials have to be arranged and the TSX (Touch Screen Voting Machine) and the OptiScan Machine have to be set up but NOT activated. The guts are put in right before the Polls open on the next day.

The booths are plastic with aluminum tent-post legs. They used to be cardboard with aluminum legs that were in sections. Then there is the “handicapped” booth that has cured legs and is lower to accommodate wheelchairs. Since I can bend and move and am handy, I get to put the furniture together while other judges check out the paper ballots, the voter roll, the signature capture sheets, the various forms and other supplies. Everything needs to be checked off on a supply sheet to make sure it is all there. No seals are broken and nothing is opened. Just a checklist. If all the Judges show up, it goes fast. But we had only 3 of 7 show up, so placing the tables and booths took up most of our time. Plus there is discussion about the best arrangement, do we need another table?, and where should the TSX machine be place to guarantee privacy?

On the BIG DAY, we arrive at 5:15 to finish the set up. Break the seals on the ballot boxes, arrange them on the table and make sure the signature capture sheets are all there and Place green labels on those where the voters have already absentee voted or early voted.

This year the signature capture sheets needed 2 judges to initial )one from each party) and the voter had to write down which ballot(D or R or Green or NonPartisan) he/she wanted. We ended up with no one wanting to vote Green or NonPartisan at my Precinct.

If there is more than one precinct in the polling place, the materials have to be separated. We had two but we were lucky because both precincts were combined on the voting rolls and signature capture sheets. Other places had 3 or 4 and the rolls and capture sheets were separate!!!!

The OptiScan computer is place in the stand, connected, turned on, checked to make sure it is zeroed and there are no votes on it and a “zero tape is printed and all judged sign it. Then it is locked and sealed.

The TSX machine is then started. The printing cam is inserted and the code is punched in so a zero tape can be printed. All the judges check and sign the tape which is wound into the spool and the lid is closed and sealed.

Both machines are ready.

The Poll signs are placed outside and the flags are put up.

All the forms are placed on the tables.

   The station is arranged in a circular pattern. First: the signature capture sheets, then the ballots. The various forms. The AskEd PDA that lists all the county’s voters and polling locations, the TSX card machine is started so voters can use the touch screen. And the cell phone is turned on!!!!  (I forgot to do that and was reminded about it later!)

By the way…the technical Judge has received SPECIAL TRAINING to be able to do all this! He/she also gets PAID EXTRA for this! He/She is supposed to put all the machines together and turn them on while the others set up the forms, etc. I am not the Technical Judge. (Our Tech Judge is 85 and can’t bend, kneel, walk, or remember anything!) Since I am the youngest (59), I get to do the tech stuff. Fortunately, I like to do it.

   Next comes the TSX machine, faced away so the voter has privacy. The various voting booths and finally the OptiScan machine so voters can insert their paper ballots to be counted. A judge is seated about 5 or 6 feet away to direct voter to the machine (near the exit) and watch to make sure the machine doesn’t jam. That judge collect the pens, the privacy cover for the ballot, and passes out the “I Voted Today!” stickers.

Everything is ready and set up….so we sign up and take the Oath of office. When 6 AM arrives, we unlock the door and call out to the masses of people waiting (one person) “Oye, Oye! The Polls are not Open!”

We were very lucky. The OptiScan machine did not jam. The TSX printer worked well. I did not have to rewind the printer tape manually like last time. I told them the gear was stripped and the tape would not wind! They did not listen and said I did not put it in correctly. (HA! It snapped in nicely this time and worked perfectly!) Because the OptiScan Machine did not jam, we(I) did not have to open it and pull out the jammed ballots and that saved so much time.

We had plenty of ballots and did not run out. We did have trouble inding the “Assisted Voter” forms. For some reason they were printed on the reverse side of the “New Voter” Oath form which was on a tablet and the form was on the reverse and not readily visible. Hmmm…not that way at the Nursing Home…make a mental note…. Filled out the Provisional Ballot Form for those voters not on the rolls who wanted to vote. Filled out change of address forms. Made note that we need to have a form for incorrect address…for the 2 people whose address was 614 instead of 615…there is no 614. Oh well.

We were busy the entire time. We even enlisted to Poll Watchers to collect the pens and hand out the stickers so we could get people their ballots quickly. We were able to change positions, mostly, so that everyone got a chance to experience the other stations and learn what was needed. Two of our judges were most comfortable sitting in one place and looking up the signature capture sheets. We did not have any judges who could not alphbetize this time. We were good with the signatures and initialing. last time a couple judges wanted IDs….not necessary in Illinois….and were challenging signatures! We didn’t have that problem this time, probably because I complained. Also, we were more busy than ever before.

The County Official came around to check up and we were going smoothly, no problems. He complimented me on running a smooth polling place! I told him that the Tech Judge was over there and pointed….He said he knew. Made me feel better.

At seven PM we shouted…”The Polls are now closed!” to no one standing ooutside in the icy rain and snow. We did it. Over 1000 people voted in this primary. A record for our 2 precincts! And the largest number, over 600, voted Democratic in a Republican County!

At closing we packed up the materials. I printed out the reports from the 2 machines. Another Judge who is very good with the paperwork checked everything off, did the counts. The remaining Judges broke down the booths and packed them into the Election Supply Closet “on wheels”. I packed up the AskEd, the card initializer for the TSX. The Tech Judge argued about which box (Where is Box “C”, I see “1”,”2″,and “3”, but where is “C”?) needed to go to the County Office and what needed to be placed in it. I printed out more voting record forms…we needed 4 from each but somehow one got lost and I printed out 2 more, and the Poll Watchers wanted one, so I printed more. When that was done, the electronic machines were packed up. The memory card seals broken, cards removed, packed in a special pouch with the seals. Large taped Seals were placed on the Ballot Boxes. All the paperwork and signed voter sheets tabulated and packed. We initialed all the forms. More arguing about what is needed and what to pack. Arranged the stuff in the cabinet according to the placement diagram on the door! Argued again. The Tech Judge tried to get someone to volunteer from the other party to drive with her to the county to deliver the important stuff.( Lucky I am the same party!) Filled out the suggestion sheet. Signed the pay vouchers…Finally done! The Tech Judge and the other Judge drove off to the County with the goods. Now I remember why I don’t want to be the Tech Judge. I like getting home before midnight!

I went home and discovered that I was sore all over.

The check will be in the mail in a month…or is it two? Woooowee! It has to be the money because 5:15 to 9:30 is a looong day. That $100 will go far!

It went very well this time because we didn’t have any voters arguing or complaining. Well, we had one. He didn’t want to declare his party so he refused to vote and got angry about it. He stamped his foot and shouted a little. But his wife said he was a crab so we let him perform while she voted. And we had no machine breakdowns! Knock on wood!

Hurry, call your County Election Commission and get on the list for the Fall! It is an experience! And maybe you will hear someone complain about how the static electricity jammed the machine when it is pouring rain outside and people are dripping wet!

You might want to catch my other diary yesterday Judge . Thanks.

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1 comment

    • Temmoku on February 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    The preview didn’t show it so I wasn’t sure it would work!

    Please vote and please volunteer!

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