On Election Judging

Early Voting in Cook County

For several years, whenever I’m in the US, I’ve volunteered to be an Election Judge. This year I signed up to work for the 16 day  Early Voting. I figured with the CCP virus, many of the older judges wouldn’t volunteer and I’d be needed.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, this was a marathon. I’m slowly getting my energy level back after working 12 or 13 hour days with a 15 minute lunch Monday through Friday and 9 1/2 or 10 hours on the weekend. I’m happy to serve, but I do wish we managed to get the hour lunch as promised and that the County Clerk was upfront about what the pay would be rather than keeping it a secret. I asked in training and was told that the County hadn’t decided and that when decided the rate wouldn’t be published online. I only found out via the grapevine the daily rate and I’m not sure the amount is right. It’s about 30% less than what Chicago Cook County pays.

I came to appreciate how the Early Voting point person, a retired fireman, ran things. He was gruff, but good with using good techniques like using a flashlight to get the ID scanner to work, bringing cloths and solution he got rather than the little packets of antiseptic to clean the screens, and other means of making the process smoother. I wasn’t on board with his dictum to not let people sit down unless they were elderly or disabled. He thought people mulled things over too much if they were sitting. I thought mulling was fine, but he was the boss. Some people did move a chair so I figure that problem worked itself out.

About half the team were veterans who’d worked together for years. They were definitely the inner circle. This played itself out through people who had “their” seats and jobs. Also, the point person had certain traditions like getting salmon sandwiches on Friday and Italian beef sandwiches on Saturday. When I first heard about this I thought this option was for everyone. Nope. He took orders from the inner circle and the rest of us were free to do this ourselves. (Note the inner circle did pay for their sandwiches, but the fireman got them.) Since we had 15 – 20 minutes for lunch, going out was not a real option. Week two on some occasions when I needed to run a quick errand I did take 30 minutes. 

The first week we processed an average of 825 voters and the second week it was more like 500. The moral is if you want to avoid long lines which for us went down the block and around the corner, don’t come the first week. Our last weekend and this Monday we had just over 300 voters. 

Election Judges are supposed to be non-partisan. Thus I don’t discuss politics even in whispers. Not everyone followed that principle. One convivial judge told me that she couldn’t be as friendly towards voters with Republican voting guides in their hands as she was with Democrat literature. Of course, she could, but it takes effort, which is possible. People are more than their political leanings.

In Illinois we had an amendment on the ballot which would allow the state assembly to change tax rates without a referendum. There was a lot of advertising on this issue and those in favor called it the Fair Tax amendment and argues that the increased tax would only effect billionaires.

When other states like Massachusetts and New Jersey have passed such laws, what has happened is that the first year the rich are taxed more, but as time goes on the middle class is also taxed more. 

November 3rd was a slow day in my polling place which hosted three precincts. My precinct only got 123 voters as many had voted by mail or early. 

This made for a long day. No matter how many voters come, setting up and closing down are time consuming. Each site has an Administrative Judge, who gets paid an extra $25 to retrieve the key to the voting equipment box and must contact all the team members to let them know when we’d set up. Our Administrative Judge was a total flake. He was MIA as of last Thursday. Finally he responded to my emails and asked what his role was. He dropped the ball on arranging for us to set up on Sunday. Although most of us preferred a Sunday set up, we had to set up Monday. 

Of the 5 judges only 3 showed up. We were moved to a gym at the park district. The maintenance man showed us where to go and said we could set up in any of the three sections of the gym. After we were half way though our work, a woman came in and said we had to move as they were having a game on that court. Then we’d have to move back. Although everything would be locked up after we did the needed tasks, I’m sure the County wanted us in a space that was locked up and secure, not where there was a game while no election judges. 

The 4th judge did come on time at 5 am Election Judge. Judge 5 was a no-show. We didn’t need him throughout the day but at set up and shut down phase. The Administrative Judge was half an hour late. We just have an hour to do the second stage set up and that’s tough to do in time. We were able to get the 6am voters started but it was a close call. Throughout the day this Administrative Judge was at loose ends not knowing what to do and just being useless. During shut down this Administrative Judge went and took a break. Huh? He was no where to be found. Eventually, he returned and did offer to work, but he was so aimless that he wasn’t of much help. He annoyed me by watching TV on his phone as we were closing down. 

In spite of everything, the long hours being the hardest part, I’m glad I volunteered. Many voters were very appreciative and that helped us carry on.


Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)! To join, al l you need to do is create a post and link to Eclectic Ali

If we were having coffee, I’d say that fall has arrived with its chilly temps and its vivid foliage. I’d add that work has been full of twists and turns. Originally, Wedsneday was to be our last day. Then a judge ordered that the Census continue to October 5th. By Friday the judge decided that it should run till October 31st. We’re not sure if that means we’ll work till the 31st or not. For all we know tomorrow could be our last day in the field.

I’d tell you that I got trained to be an Early Voting judge. It was a rather a confusing session. About six groups of six were in a large room. Because all the instructors wore masks and all were talking at the same time, but at different speeds it was hard to know what each was saying. Still we went through procedures and have our manuals to guide us when the real thing begins.

I enjoyed watching Carole Lombard and Fred McMurray (My Three Sons) in Hands Across the Table. it’s a darling romantic comedy though I wasn’t thrilled with the end.

I went to dinner with my aunt and uncle. It was fun to see them before they leave for a couple weeks. We went to a small Italian restaurant. We ate inside, which was a first in months for me.

Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely catching up with friends (old and new)! To join, al l you need to do is create a post and link to Eclectic Ali

It’s been a mixed week. On the plus side, Friday I celebrated my birthday with a dinner with my parents and two cousins, I haven’t seen in ages. We ate outside at a local spot which has a lovely patio area. The downside, which is minor, is that it was quite chilly. We wore our fall coats the whole time. I must admit fall has come and it’s time to switch out my seasonal wardrobe.

While Friday was great, Saturday started with a fender bender. Ugh. I was parking in front of a food pantry where my partner and I were going to work. I accidentally started to park in a loading zone and the man who owned the store by the zone, startled me as he dramatically waved and pointed to the sign. Of course, I started to move out, but I wasn’t careful enough so I soon heard a dreadful CRRRUNCH. I’d hit the taillights of the car in front of me. Long story short, I’ve exchanged information with the other driver and will go through the process of making things right. There’s something so awful in that sound of a car accident, even a minor one. Then there’s the dreadful thought of how much will it cost and how much hassle this will be to fix. My car had a pretty long scratch, but when I got home, I wiped off the door and saw that the scratch isn’t so bad. Have you had any experiences like this?

This week at work we got more people to do the Census than any other, but 200%. Where have these people been? They were pleasant and we didn’t have any insults shouted at us. We have had some of our future assignments changed as both in Albany Park and the Morse CTA station, there were shootings. We work during the day and these incidents happened after 6pm, but it’s good we’ve been reassigned. I do wonder when Chicago’s violence will decline. Nothing seems to be working.

On Thursday, my partner and I had an interesting talk with the two police officers covering the Rogers Park CTA stations. They explained how there’s a lot to their job that TV commentators and social media users just don’t understand. For example, tasers only work as designed if they can touch the skin. If someone is wearing thick or baggy clothing, they’re ineffective. Someone can pull out the prongs pretty easily and once those wires are disconnected, the device is useless. I’d love to see a news program that offers information on how tasers work and what they can and can’t do. I’d like to see the actual statistics on how often someone draws a weapon on the police and the officers make the arrest without drawing a weapon.

I’m reading That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. It’s the third book of his space trilogy. It’s quite different from the first two books, but relates to what’s going on in society right now in terms of violence and division. The main character Mark is a university professor and I’m enjoying the view into academia.

I finished the Hillsdale College Children’s Classic Literature course so I got Peter Rabbit and reread that and got Beatrix Potter’s Two Bad Mice. Both were witty and soothing timeless stories.

My job will end on September. I have lined up short term work as a judge for early voting which will start here on October 19th and culminate November 3rd. After that I have to get something else. First and foremost I have to figure out what I want to do.

Can I Just Say . . .

that it’s not effective for a manager to tell new employees who’ve gone through a week of training that consisted of mishaps and disorganization (i.e. we don’t have the equipment you need, maybe we will tomorrow; oh, no one sent us the usernames you need; doesn’t anyone have any ideas of what we should do in the meantime) to stumble around and then start cracking the whip with threats like, “I know you all just started and it’s been rough and this isn’t the position you thought it would be, but if you don’t achieve these new benchmarks as much as I don’t want to, I’ll have to fire you.”

Is this for real?

Yep. Wish I could elaborate.

Sepia Saturday

Woman Aeroplane Worker : Sepia Saturday 498 Header

Today the photo prompt inspired me to look through Flickr Commons for photos of welders.


Tynew & Wear Archives & Museum, Welder, 1960

welder 38211_c

Library of Congress, Welder, 1963

Welder making aluminum furniture

I actually would like to learn to weld. I’ve heard that women often make good welders.

If you want to see more welding-inspired photos, click here.



Just Awful

I can’t believe that the management of Winnetka-Northfield Library is still treating people so poorly in light of the two news stories in the local papers this week. (Here’s one from the Winnetka Talk.*)

You’d think the managers would shape up, but no.

I just learned that when a colleague, who’s part time, was on vacation learned her mother died. Due to her vacation she had to switch a lot of shifts. Then to attend her mother’s memorial she had to take off a weekend. The management required that she make up her hours and get a replacement. Not one manager expressed any sympathy towards her. So she will go to her mother’s memorial but then she’ll have to work 12 days in a row to get that “favor.”

*Note: in the article it states that 88 people have left. In the last couple weeks 6 more have done so. The total is now 94 out of 43.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that you should go see West Side Story at the Lyric Opera. It’s a terrific musical and there are discount codes to get tickets for a good price.

I made dinner for Mother’s Day for my parents and two brothers’ families. I’m most proud of my key lime pie and the angel food cake that I decorated with Trader Joe’s small chocolate mousse tea cakes in the shape of flowers. Those were great and don’t think you must add them to a cake. On their own they’re addictive.

On Friday, my nephew broke his arm quite badly. He was in gym class and decided to jump over a volleyball, but instead he fell on the ball and went sailing. He was in surgery for 4 hours. By Saturday, he was smiling though very tired.

I finished reading Henri Duchemin and His Shadows by Emmanuel Bove, a French writer whom I discovered by using Literature-Map.com. Try Literature-Map and let me know if you find any new favorite writers.

I’m getting more active about applying for jobs. I look and look, but in ESL there aren’t many possibilities. In EFL (i.e. teaching English as a Foreign Language) the main employers are China and the Middle East. I’m done with China. Or I do hope I am. I spent many years there and liked my students, but China is cracking down on religious expression in a way I can’t overlook. (See this article as well.) Also, the PRC’s government needs to negotiate in good faith with its foreign trading partners. For decades they’ve gotten such sweet deals and they’ve stolen IP left and right. None of the computers I worked on at school or in a hotel had purchased Microsoft software. It was all pirated. That’s one example. I don’t want to help a country that’s not going to protect religious freedom. That same reason makes the Middle East a problem. I am trying to find work as an Instructional Designer here in the US. So far finding nearby opportunities and convincing an employer that I have the needed skills is difficult via a form on the internet. In conversation, I can make the case.

I’ve loved my library work, but the field is on a downward trend of just offering part time work.


Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the water color program I went to at the library on Tuesday. We followed the teacher step by step to create a small water color painting of two spring blossoming trees. We learned about a couple techniques of water colors and painted to Mozart. The teacher was super well organized and down to earth. Sometimes her classes are free style but this wasn’t but that was fine with me. She planned and paced the course so well and everyone left with a decent spring painting with matted with the color paper of their choice.

On Tuesday I went to a brunch to honor volunteers at my local library. The event was catered and there was something for everyone. I got to meet other volunteers whom I rarely see and met a few library staff members for the first time. Lots of good conversation and at the end we were given a small box of fine chocolates and a $20 gift certificate for a local restaurant.

On Friday I went to a conference for library staff. It was a fairly small affair with an array of small presentations. I saw some on Readers’ Advisory, i.e. how to interview patrons and figure out what sort of books they’d enjoy and some on makerspaces. The makerspace presentations were actually best for libraries that don’t have makerspaces. The information was very basic. One highlight was a session on motivation by the director of the LaCrosse Public Library. She knows how to give a speech as she was upbeat and had great body language. She structured her speech well and had ideas you could immediately put into practice if you were a manager at a library.

Yesterday I attended my nephew’s confirmation. His church is rather small, but the level of community engagement was high. I liked that people knew each other and were truly connected. There were 5 young people confirmed and one was also baptized. They prepared for years and the pastor and youth pastor seemed to know each person well.

How was your week?