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As a poll worker, I have been well trained in all areas except for voter fraud

This submission is about the Voter ID canard and my “training” to stay alert to its presence.

I’m a poll worker in the Palmetto state. The local branches of the State Election Commission do an outstanding job of training their volunteers for their vital duties, lynchpins of democracy. There is not only the initial training period, but before every election, local, state and national, there is another mandated training session for experienced poll workers just to make sure they’re still up to speed.

A few weeks ago, I attended another such session, probably my 5th or 6th since moving to South Carolina. It was thorough, concise and readily understandable. There were helpful props and handouts. Each worker received the latest Poll Manager’s Handbook, 40 pages of instruction in every aspect of working an election. There is also a password protected online training site for continued review right up to the election date.

Poll workers learn how to manage the voter from the time he or she steps in the door. There’s a poll book that must be signed; a registration book that must be checked and a voter oath to be taken. Earlier, poll workers took their own oath. In South Carolina a voter ID must be presented in the form of a drivers license, current voter registration card or a photo ID card from the Public Safety section of the BMV. Absent 1 of the 3 required forms of ID, there are various options. Poll workers will have to be especially alert this time around as state redistricting has moved some voters into different districts and precincts. If everything checks out and the voter is in the right place, all requisite information is entered into a laptop program. It’s a check and double-check system. In the elections I’ve worked, there have been minor glitches, but for the most part, it’s been a surprisingly smooth exercise.

It’s a very meticulous process and all names, addresses and precincts must match commission voter records. Help is provided for ‘curbside’ voters unable to leave their cars due to age or an infirmity. Visually impaired voters are provided for via a special ADA voting machine. Change of address is addressed. Nothing is left to chance. The voter is given a piece of paper with the proper voting number written on it. Instruction in Ivotronic machine voting is provided for those voters needing it. Poll Watchers are accommodated and high school age volunteers have been given their important duties. There are even clothing limitations; you can’t wear a ‘Vote for Joe Blow’ T-shirt for instance.

I haven’t even covered the entire process, but you get an idea of the organization that goes into your local polling places. I dare say there is less instruction in disarming a nuclear bomb. Kudos to the folks in charge. There’s nary a hint of partisanship. I do believe, based on my participation, that every voter is given a fair shake. I think that’s true of the vast majority of voting venues throughout the U.S.

The average age of a poll worker in the U.S. is 72. The pay is enough to make a Romney supporter puff up his chest (I purposely left out ‘her’ chest because I can’t imagine a female Romney supporter). The total take for a worker is $120.00. Given the hours for training, the day before set-up and the day of the election that begins at 6:00 AM and lasts until the set is ‘struck’ as theater people would say, poll workers are a bargain for the state. There is no OT and the Election Day alone can stretch to 15 or 16 hours depending on the length of those still in line at the 7:00 PM closing time. Remember, when the Poll head announces the closing of the polls at 7, EVERYBODY IN LINE at that time is allowed to vote, no matter how long that may take. If you arrive after closing time, you’re out of luck.

I estimate the hourly wage for that aging poll worker at around $6.50. It’s quite a slog on those arthritic tootsies.

Given the amount of training and work time spent and the incredible attention to detail, I was confounded to realize there was one detail that received nary a mention. Not in my initial training, nor my follow-up, nor in the Election Manual from the state. Nor, up to this point, on Election Day. Not a word. Not a reference. Not a hint. Nothing in the manual. No printed handout, no printed material. Zippo! Zilch! Nada! Nil! Zippo! That detail was VOTER FRAUD!

Yes, there is voter fraud. Since 2000 in South Carolina, there have been 3 convictions. And it’s not only a enormous Deep South problem, nationally, it’s been estimated that there is 1 case of voter fraud for every 15 million votes cast. And counting at least 600 million votes since 2000, there have been TEN cases of in-person voter fraud. TEN! You can never be too careful.

Now, is it just me or don’t you all agree that a problem of that magnitude of voter fraud would at least deserve a word or two in the training sessions and literature of those who are in direct contact with the endless queue of fake ID perps? I mean, I could be sitting at the registration table and literally reach out and touch one of those sleazeballs. Why am I not warned of this potential (inevitable?) eventuality? I mean 1 of those 3 aforementioned voter ID desperadoes might make a return appearance to my precinct.

The answer would have to be found in one of two explanations. Either the powers that be are careless and indifferent or voter ID fraud is of little threat or importance. I suspect the latter. I’ve been told by right-wing Websites, radio, TV and print that voter fraud is one hell of a problem. It surely must be if some 30 states or so have adopted laws equipped to keep those fraudulent voters at bay with requirements making it tough as hell for certain (mostly Democratic) voting blocs. Of course little of the real fraud of recent months carried out by Republican operatives is addressed in the legislation. The only interest Republicans have is keeping legitimate voters away from the polls who would possibly vote for Democratic candidates.

Thanks to Republican extremists, in many respects, we no longer live in a legitimate democracy and a right-wing victory of any dimension on November 6th would assure that the America I grew up in would no longer exist.

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