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2006 Municipal Primary Rundown

May 22, 2006 at 12:11 AM

The 2006 Municipal Primary is over, and the voting units worked great - given this is the first time the county's used them (prior to this, we had a punch-card voting system), there were only minor problems with them...But still, the election went pretty good in my opinion =)

Also, once again, I'm unemployed, at least until the next election* - at least I'll have some free time for awhile.

(* - But maybe not - last week, I was told I could be hired for a job regarding filing, which would be from the middle of June to the first week of August - it's only four hours a day instead of seven-and-a-half, and I'm not sure how many days it would be, although that probably won't be known unless/until I get the job...But at least it would give me some work to do until the next election =) )

Speaking of the election, here's what I've been doing:

March 26-31: I continued to sort voter information cards and, when done with those, I helped with sorting absentee ballots by which set of pages they would need, followed by double-checking to make sure each had the right number of copies. After that, I worked on setting up letters to send to people due to change of address, as well as checking voter records to determine if any of them needed to have their records merged (the list included people with the same first name and birthday - most were women, due to their last name being changed following marriage).

April 3-7: I continued work on sorting and merging voter information cards, finishing up with that on the sixth - I went and organized things with the remaining time I had at work that day, as my boss didn't feel too good and left early, before I finished sorting and merging. At the end of the week, I started getting materials ready for provisional ballots (now with twenty labels, envelopes, and clasp envelopes instead of ten) and putting them in their folders. I managed to get 50 (of 74) sets finished before I had to leave.

April 10-13: I finished the remaining 24 sets of provisional ballots on the tenth, and took care of two-thirds of the steps for all of the Watcher's Certificates (typing information and stamping signatures) - I'll emboss them with the seals on Monday.

I was off Friday, since Good Friday is a legal holiday here =) I also found out that the radio signal interference in the old car is related to the ignition: if the car's on, the signal's bad, but if the car's off (but the radio is on), then the signal is fine. Dad said it might have something to do with the decondenser (I have no idea what that is), and we'll see what will be done about this in the future.

April 17-21: I finished the last step for the Watcher's Certificates (embossing the seals) on Monday. Tuesday, I filed some of the remaining voter information cards (and merging the necessary ones beforehand), placed voter papers (each with a pre-perforated voter ID card) into envelopes, and was taught how to go through batch lists of voters to determine whether or not to send them a voter ID card, depending on the circumstances (duplicate registration, change of address, not registered, etc.). At the end of week, I finished up on the batch lists (any application sent after April 17th was denied, as that's past the cutoff date for registering for the Primary), put more voter papers with ID cards into envelopes, placed precinct labels on envelopes, put papers mentioning about the poll books (along with two pens) inside that envelope and taping it shut, and last but not least, checking all of the voting units in the back room to get their serial numbers, and ensure they're all here.

Also, I saw my picture in the local paper, in an "Open House" advertisement (in color!) for demonstrating usage of the new voting machines (on 20th) =D Earlier in the week, I had a picture taken with me acting like I was using the voting machine, which was used in that advertisement. On closer inspection, one can tell the picture was flipped - I'm touching the screen with my left hand, my band and watch are on my right wrist, and the number-key unit's on the left. That last one's the most obvious, as it's really on the right side of the machine and, although removable, it cannot be docked on the left side of the machine. I wonder if anyone noticed this? ;P

April 24-28:
On Monday, I checked the encoders to list their serial numbers and counted how many access cards there were. The access cards resemble credit cards with a chip in them - they do not have raised letters/numbers, but instead have two thick lines each at the top and bottom, and the type of card it is, in a specific color. Four types are used during the entire process, but only two - the Voter Access Card and Supervisor Card - will be used on the day of the election. When I was done counting them, I mailed out a few more voter ID cards, went to the back room to count the number of power cords for the voting units, and then started counting memory cards. Since I couldn't get done with counting those on Monday, I would start counting them the next day.

Tuesday, I counted the memory cards - I thought that the total was 40 short, but it turns out the original count (not made by me) was over by 40, so everything was there =) After that, I counted headphones and keypads, both of which had the exact number needed. Later on, I got on the computer and typed up the list of voting unit and encoder serial numbers that I wrote down earlier in the week (making two lists - one preserved the original order I found them in, and the other had them sorted by number in ascending order). After doing that, I worked on getting the supply boxes ready, and was over halfway done before I had to leave for the day.

Wednesday, I finished getting the supply boxes ready, put letters into envelopes, and then put numbered labels (from a label-maker, not from the printer) on the Voter Access Cards. After that, I gathered lanyards and keys (two apiece) for each precinct, to be put together on Thursday.

Thursday, I worked a little more on gathering the lanyards and keys, and then went to the back room to get enough keys from the cords I counted earlier (they were attached to them with a twist-tie). After I got more than enough keys, I went back and gathered the last few lanyards and keys, and then went to get any remaining keys from the cords I didn't check before...But again was interrupted, to take a look at the Democratic absentee ballots (which are now optical scan forms instead of punch cards), comparing one of the ballots to a paper copy to make sure everything matched, or that anything marked in red on the paper copy was fixed on the ballot. This had to be done for each precinct, and after I finished up with those, I went back and got all the remaining keys from the cords, and finished up the day by working on labeling more access cards.

Speaking of which, Thursday, April 27, was my 23rd Birthday! =D My parents and I got ready to go to Red Lobster, but before we left, I opened my presents: three pairs of pants (only one fit - the other two need shorter lengths), three shirts (all of them fit), one pair of shoes (a half-size too big), and cards and money from parents, maternal grandparents and aunt. When we got to Red Lobster, I got the Snow Crab Legs (I got shrimp last year, and am holding off on lobster until my 25th) and was sung the "birthday song" again (Dad told the waitress when I wasn't looking). After having dinner there, we went to return the pants and shoes - we managed to get the pants replaced (this time, they fit), but had to get a refund on the shoes (and will have to look for a proper-fitting pair from the catalog).

Friday, I worked on labeling cards, kept making labels until I ran out of tape, and couldn't do any more for the time being. I then started work on placing provisional ballots (like the ones I checked earlier in the week, except that they had "Provisional" in green printed twice on them, once on the stub, once on the ballot) into the supply envelopes I prepared awhile back, and sealed them. After that, I worked on trying to get a screen-magnification/reader program installed for one of the people working there, followed by attempting to print out a 242-page document on a CD that my boss couldn't get to print (it kept crashing on page eight and above - I didn't know why at the time, but I found out later from someone else that it was due to missing drivers). The rest of the day was spent on putting away more voter information cards.

May 1-5:
All of Monday was spent on labeling voter access cards, although I took a slight break to help out with getting absentee ballots ready to be sent out, and will be able to finish cards tomorrow.

Tuesday, I worked for most of the first half of the day on the voter access cards, and the rest was spent taking encoders labeled for each precinct (two for each), recording the serial numbers and precinct they're for, and attaching them (with one key per encoder) to the lanyards that I sorted earlier.

Wednesday, I typed up the list of encoders (by precinct), and used the values from the form I typed up before to ensure I didn't duplicate anything (I took the unused ones and made a list with them as well). After that, I put labels on small clasp envelopes for Supervisor cards (two per precinct), and then worked on making sure the small clasp envelopes had ballot box keys that matched the precinct they were for (I had to retype two envelopes, as they were falling apart). Once that was finished, I got enough envelopes for the remaining provisional ballot sets, put them together, and labeled them with the number of ballots each had. I managed to get 22 done before I had to leave for the day, but I could finish the rest tomorrow. Although we didn't do much at home, Mom and I wished Dad a Happy Birthday today =)

Thursday, I finished up the rest of the provisional ballot sets, and then worked the rest on the day to get the poll books ready. I managed to get 31 finished, and will probably need two more days to finish the rest.

Friday, I worked on poll books for the whole day and got 40 more done, plus all of the papers needed for the remaining three. I'll try to finish them on Monday or Tuesday, as I've been asked to help out with something on Monday and won't be able to work on the poll books.

May 8-12:
Monday was spent on getting ballot box keys, supply envelopes with pens, and two street lists per precinct rubber-banded together and put away for the moment...But I had to stop after the first few to do L and A testing on the voting machines. Creating master Voter Access cards for each precinct, and the testing, were the final two things to do with the voting units before they are to be sent out for the elections. The testing took awhile, but I was eventually sent back to finish rubber-banding supplies, as the Diebold people there could get it done quicker than the rest of us could. I also did a bit of work on getting voter assistance papers for supply boxes ready (25 per box), and then will tape them shut, the last step in that process.

Tuesday, I finished up getting papers for the remaining supply boxes ready (and taping them shut), then put groups of specimen ballots in clasp envelopes (two envelopes per precinct - one Republican, one Democrat) and took one extra from each pile to be used later as "master" copies. When I was finished there, I had to use those extras pulled from the main piles for copies of the ballots that people would come in and ask for.

Wednesday, I worked on stamping "Voted by Absentee Ballot" (in red ink) beside the names of absentee voters in the Ballot Book, if they weren't already marked as such. After that, I put memo and information papers regarding what to do during election night in envelopes (labeled with the precinct name and number), and added that to the rubber-banded supplies. After that, I got a box of surplus street lists, and put those lists away in the proper shelves.

Thursday was spent charging up cell phones (for poll workers during the elections). Two of them had problems (one had no compatible adapter, and the other wouldn't turn on regardless of what I did), and the broken one will need replaced. While waiting for them to charge up, I was asked to find a few patriotic coloring book pages (as an activity for kids to do during a local event later on that week). I also made a list of the numbers taped to the backs of the phones, matched them up with the precincts that needed them, and labeled each phone (and box, if it had one - the number was also labeled on it so I could match them up) with the precinct number and name. All but two of the ones I needed to label were finished, so I'll finish the remainder tomorrow.

Friday was a slow day, as the work here is winding down. I used a few spare mailing labels for the two remaining phones (in place of label-maker labels), retyped a list of "rovers" that required a few changes (mostly due to precinct additions), put away a few more voter information cards, and finally put locks on (and locked) black supply boxes that had all of the necessary election equipment ready. A few of those were left open due to not having the supplies ready for them at the moment, and I was told to leave them unlocked - I did, but hung an opened lock on the edge of those cases' lids (in such a way it'd have to be removed to lock the case) so there'd be a lock ready for the rest.

May 15-17:
Monday was spent killing time - I read through the voting machine manual, magazines, and newspapers to pass the time, but stopped to take care of any jobs as they came in, which included gathering together voting supply envelopes and papers for the people picking them up for their precincts, and getting a list of maps and "rover" lists ready to send to one of the Diebold workers.

Tuesday was the day of the 2006 Municipal Primary! Again, I did mostly nothing for the day (to be honest, I actually liked working...Time passed quicker then O.o), but helped out when needed, getting a handful of specimen ballots copied, as well as putting labels on the filing shelf for each precinct's number and name, for where the memory cards and supply bags would be put later on in the day. Near the end of the day, I went over to the adjacent courthouse building (the website administrator was moved to that building since the last time I worked here) and I tried to figure out how to set up the site for live election results - this used a Java applet, one which the Diebold technicians could get working locally, but not online (no result lists were showing up). I had to mess around with it awhile, and it was about to be abandoned since I couldn't find a solution...But I got lucky. Just a minute after the working day was over, and before I left, I found a solution - if I set an absolute URL for where it has to look for the results and used the "Refresh" button on the applet to load them, the result lists would show up (and could be loaded successfully). I doubt anyone looking at the results would consider pushing "Refresh" to show the list (it makes no sense to me, not for initially loading it, anyway =/ ), so I made a note to list that on the page when I could work on it.

After going home to get ready, and coming back at night when the election was over (but before the results were calculated), I went over to the other building to get in and update the site...But the doors were locked - I found someone to unlock it for me (who then went back to where they were before), but the doors I needed to get through at that point were also locked! I almost got lost trying to find the room before I realized that I wouldn't be able to get into the room I needed to be in, and then left for the main building.

After getting back there, I asked if there was a computer I could get on to in order to upload the results, and fortunately for me, there was one free in the Payroll department. With their permission, I got on that one, installed an FTP program, got a page ready for the live election results (linking to a page to download the JRE if they need it for this), and then mentioned it on the county's home page when the live election page was ready. I called Dad during this (a bit later than I promised, as I lost track of the time), since I wanted to confirm who would be bringing me home - it was originally one of the people from the Courthouse, but after a moment, we changed the plans so that he'd be here to take me home at 11:30 PM.

When I got that page ready and notified the people in the Voter's Registration office about it, I got a CD with the election results for the precincts that were finished, loaded the necessary files onto the system (and from there, the county's site), handed it back when I got them uploaded, and got the CD back again when results from more precincts were finished, repeating the process until all the precincts were accounted for. When that was achieved, I changed the "live election" parts on the home and live election pages to read "final election results", shut down the system, said goodbye to everyone there (in case I wouldn't be back the next day), and left...

...But at 11:30 PM, Dad didn't come! I waited for awhile because I thought something might have happened to them on the way over, but since I couldn't get back in the courthouse to use the pay phone (I could see one from the windows, but the doors were locked), and because I wasn't sure what other places were open that also had a phone available, I waited until about 1:00 AM before I noticed there was a bar open nearby (I didn't notice it was open beforehand), and thought that they might have a phone I could use. I went in and asked if there was a phone I could use - two people offered to let me use their cell phones, one of them saying it'd cost five dollars for me to use it. I thought he may have been joking, but for all I knew, he could've been serious - that person may not have been from around here, it may not be a local call from his phone, and if anyone else didn't have a phone, well...

...Anyway, a moment later, a friend of that person told him to knock it off (I then finally realized it was a joke), and then the manager offered to let me use his phone (the bar's, which was cordless), provided I was calling a local number (I was). I called home on it, and found out why Dad didn't come to pick me up - due to a misunderstanding (I honestly believe this one was an accident) he thought I'd call again after the elections were over to pick me up, and thought I was still working there! He apologized for not coming sooner, and came over as quick as he could to bring me home - I thanked the people there before I left for letting me call home, went home (he apologized a few more times for what happened), and went to bed.

Wednesday, I got a call saying I don't have to come in today...Which means that yesterday was my last day of work for this election, and my last day of employment for the time being.

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