Yesterday, I worked as a Poll Manager for the first time (sidenote: Managers are lowest level, Clerks are in charge. Weird, no?). I decided to work at the polls for the day because: a) I have a flexible job and lifestyle that allows me to be gone for a full day, and b) my polls are usually staffed by friends of mine from church, all of whom are over age 65. I didn’t want them to work during the pandemic, so that means I needed to.
I was assigned to work in a small town in Upstate SC (I'm not including the name in an attempt to protect possible privacy issues). This town had a population of just over 800 in the 2010 census. Currently, the precinct has a total of 1,293 registered voters, who live in parts of three towns and even the edge of one city. About 220 of them voted early.
Some of my fellow poll managers worked at this same precinct in 2016, and they had processed an almost 25% voter rate. Yesterday, we saw 713 voters (55+ %). With early voting, this precinct had about 72% voter participation. It was an amazing, busy and rather exciting day.
Our location was the home of the town's Volunteer Fire Department, a small, squat concrete building of two rooms. We set up according to requirements, but the tables and voting booths were not 6’ apart, and the place was often quite crowded. We did our best.
I have a lot of feelings about how things went. I knew I was in a very, very Republican district, so the Trump enthusiasm was not surprising. As I’m still working to form my thoughts and opinions, I wanted to write down some anecdotes, presented without judgment, just so I’ll remember them.
Anecdotes from helping voters:
Several people came in from doing outside work, with dirt under their fingernails and in their boots. I had to sweep halfway through the day because clods of dirt gathered under one of the booths. Many people came in uniform (nurses, linemen, security guards), and we made small talk at registration about whether they were starting a shift or ending it.
When we ran the vote tally, 87% of this precinct voted for Trump. Graham won easily, but by a smaller margin. It was a long, long day, with rarely a chance for breaks. My fellow poll managers and poll clerk were lovely, capable people. I'm glad I could serve. But I'm especially glad that I was placed far away from my bubble of friends and town. I may not have supported the same candidate as these folks, but I fully supported their right to vote (well, most of them...but that's something I'll keep to myself). It was fulfilling to see democracy at work.
And in case you're asking, after having witnessed the level of record-checking, the number of phone calls, and the sheer amount of work required to ensure physical security, I have no questions about fraud. Our county, at least, ran a smooth, tight election.