My Day As An Election Judge

I saw a notice in the paper that my county couldn’t find enough people to work as judges in the March 20 gubernatorial election.

To apply one had to be a U.S.citizen and registered voter. High school or college students in good standing also were invited to apply, and there was no discrimination against seniors.

So I sent an email listing my required qualifications because I sincerely felt, and still feel, it’s our civic duty to perform any government service we can, especially while our country is in such a precarious state.

I received an immediate confirmation and learned judges had to attend a four-hour training class one week before the election, work a few hours setting up the polls the night before the election, and work election day from 5 a.m. (setting up again) until 9 p.m., which included counting ballots and repacking equipment after polls close. The pay was $140 plus $50 for attending the training class. (You do the math for the hourly wage.)

The training included a fast run through a 300-page workbook and quick hands-on exercises on special polling place computers. I was so confused I went home to practice the rest of the week on the Cook County website’s online tutorial, while rereading the manual over and over. (Add about 25 anxious hours and do the math again.)

When we finally got to the polls Tuesday morning I felt totally inadequate, sure I didn’t understand anything about what I was supposed to do. The three other judges were considerate and set me up at Station 2, where I passed out ballots after people had been checked in on the computers, and then I directed them to the voting booths and escorted them to the scanner which accepted their ballots.

It was a very long day. I never did feel I knew what I was doing, though the others did let me check in a few people so I felt I learned a bit more about how the operation worked.

I felt better when I read a review of being a judge on the watchdog website It gave the training and job one star, and complained that the county provided “inadequate training and expected you to know everything about the procedures during what was an extremely long day.”

I was glad to read I wasn’t the only one who felt stupid doing this civic duty. But I did take umbridge over the writer’s comment that “elderly judges, who probably do it for the money, are slow and not computer savvy.”

Well, this elderly judge has been computer savvy since 1976, but she’s right that I did it for the money. I am giving it all to the campaigns of candidates in the November 2018 election who I hope will save my country–because that’s my real civic duty.