Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election Day

I didn't really know what to expect with this job, but I knew it would be a long day. I had prepared myself like I would for a flight to Asia or Europe, as it would be about the same length of time, door-to-door. Also, I figured it would be equally unpleasant with fatigue, bad food, stale air and crotchety people. At this point though, I might have to say that I would rather have sat on a plane for 20 hours than have been repeatedly yelled at as an Information Officer on Election Day. 

We were warned ahead of time that a lot of people wouldn't know about the new rules for bringing your ID to vote (even though there was plenty of notice in the media, newspapers and even written ON the voter's card that came in the mail). It makes sense to me that everyone voting should have some proof of identification that matches their registered name, but I don't know if I would have gone as far as requiring proof of residential address AND another piece of ID. Anyway, those were the rules and we were not to let anyone over to the poll without this documentation. 

For the most part, people were well-prepared and in good sprits. But, there are always those sour apples that taint the whole day and I sure had a few rotten ones. I had the F-bomb used at me on more than one occasion and one man was so angry that the spit flying out of his mouth sprayed me in the face. The most popular pharse to be yelled when I asked people to return home to bring a piece of mail, was, "THIS IS A DEMOCRACY!!!" Ummm, yes, sir it is so please bring your proper documentation and then you can vote. As these unhappy individuals stormed out of the building, it was common to hear, "Well, I am NOT going to vote, then!" But never fail, they always returned with the necessary ID. 

I did feel bad for a few people who lived in lighthouses, on remote islands and even aboard sailboats who had various mailing addresses, with the most popular being "general delivery." Apparently, that isn't an acceptable address but with a few calls to headquarters, they were granted special access to vote. 

I came to realize that a lot of people love conflict and simply want to start an argument, despite coming prepared to vote. I also learned quickly not to fall for their trap and avoid taking the bait. I would process them as quick as possible and direct them to the correct poll, often having to repeat my words a few times before they realized there would be no argument with me. Sometimes I wish I had security with me, but in the end, it always worked out and everyone was able to vote. 

The day wasn't all stressful and actually quite eventful a times. Dogs are not supposed to be allowed in to the polls unless they are service dogs. Well, when I saw a lady carrying in Kiwi, the smallest yorkshire terrier with a tongue that stuck out (like Poly's!!!), I couldn't ask the dog to leave. And of course it was a very slippery slope from that point as the next dog was a poodle named Howard and you can just imagine my reaction at that point. The third dog was another yorkie, this time wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket with a matching cap. I knew James Bay had plenty of little doggies!

Food was another area of amusement. I am not sure how much (or little) I ate as the day is quite a blur. I do vaguely remember trying to practically pour my goat's milk yogurt down my throat as quick as possible in between the mid-day rush. Apart from that it was many cups of tea and coffee and some snacks I had packed from home. There was a food table set up for the poll staff in the corner, and it was pretty clear that it was not for the electors. That didn't stop a lot of people from sneaking some pumpkin pie, chocolate almonds, and even filling a ceramic mug with tea! I had to laugh as I watched one man stuff his pockets with chocolate almonds and leave with the guiltiest expression on his face! 

My day ended about 8pm so 14 hours was a good estimation. Feeling as though I had some pretty brutal jet-lag, I couldn't even stay up to watch the count on TV. I slept from 9pm until 8:30 this morning and actually feel great today. I didn't exactly get a chance to do any exercise yesterday so I am itching to get out there for a run. I didn't see a snitch of daylight yesterday so I think fresh air will feel good!


Adamo said...

I can't believe that you compromised the electoral process by allowing little dogs into the polling area.
Actually, I am not surprised, I don't doubt that you would give up democracy for a little dog visit.

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