Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Indiana's Primary Elections

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a precinct inspector for the Indiana primary on May 6. I'm sorry this report was not written on the 6th as I'd promised; I was held up for so long at the courthouse afterwards that all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Setting up the polling station was simple enough; the biggest problem was the fact that the legs didn't want to stay in their sockets on one of the voting machines. The same machine caused problems later in the day because it had a dark spot on its screen that made it hard to see one of the ballot entries.

It is against Indiana election law to campaign within 300 feet of a polling place. When I arrived at the polls, there were campaign signs stuck all over the ground outside the building; I had to remove and confiscate them when the polls opened. After that, though, there were no further problems with electioneering.

After that, the day was mostly long and boring. Voter turnout for my precinct was about 35%, which is high for a primary in this state, since we usually don't matter for the presidential election.

Since the Supreme Court upheld Indiana's law requiring photo identification at polling places in order to vote, my job mostly consisted of asking for ID at the front door. Voters kept cracking jokes about being illegal immigrants and/or having fake ID, but other than that, it went off without a hitch in my precinct. (Some nuns in South Bend were turned away for not having proper ID; I'm not clear on whether they were permitted to fill out provisional ballots as is required.)

There was one interesting thing: With the exception of the presidential ballot (for some reason, Huckabee, Romney, and Paul are all still on the ballot) all the Republicans ran unopposed. They didn't have enough candidates to go around, apparently; they were not contesting the judge's seat, and were only running two candidates for the county council (when the ballot allows voters to vote for three).

Voting was busiest at the end of the work day, as expected, but it trickled off well before closing time. We had one voter at the end of the polling time; there was nothing like the rush we were told to expect before closing.

All in all, it was a good day, and a new experience. I'd do it again if asked, though I couldn't resist informing the Democratic chairwoman of the irony of her choosing me to do it afterwards, so I don't know if I'll be asked again.

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