Monday, May 12, 2008

Working For Democracy - How about a Poll Workers Union?

Saturday was local Election Day and I put in a long day. I took off before 6 AM to pick up my alternate judge and then head to Morgan's Point. It would have been a lot earlier but Morgan's Point City Hall refuses to open its doors much before 7 AM to allow setup.

Why Morgan's Point you might ask and why was I going there? Morgan's Point is a historical small town located at the tip of Galveston Bay. It is the site of the former Morgan Plantation, home of the Yellow Rose of Texas who supposedly kept General Santa Anna occupied during a siesta. This helped Sam Houston surprise him at the battle of San Jacinto and gain Texas's independence. Now it has 251 registered voters, of which probably a bit over 20 have moved or are deceased. I was there because when I agreed to work the San Jacinto College bond election that is where they decided to send me on election day - to my and Morgan's Point residents surprise.

Morgan's Point was having a heated local election but no one would explain the issues to me. I am pretty sure it was another "business development" race which is happening all over now. The local election was taking place on the other side of the room with two people working and I had three people, counting myself, for the college bond issue. The City Secretary was also around with her Internet connection for questions about voters not on the poll list. The bond election got most of the voters who came out for the councilperson and mayor race. A high turnout for a local race, 140 out of that 251, but most had early voted.

The other person working for the college election had worked for all the early voting and I had called to get her when my clerk couldn't make it. I told her I had asked for one of the Early Voting workers. I still do not know why they also weren't chosen for Election Day.

The city provided us with donuts and lunch which was very nice of them. A small crowd started gathering in the park next to the small city hall in the afternoon with two guitars and a fiddle. The hot dogs and hamburgers looked good on a beautiful day. We inside mostly passed the time reading, working on Soduko, talking history, and discussing kayaking in Galveston Bay.

The local school boards and college districts hold great elections for the people working them. They provide paid training and cater them - Jason's Deli in this case with OK sandwiches, chips, salads, great cookies. They also pay a reasonable amount - $10 to $12 an hour for the 14-hour days. They even catered the paperwork and equipment turn-in. This is in contrast to the county and political parties which pay $6 - $7 an hour for not even all the hours you work, limited paid training, no catering, and are much more stressful and active elections. Maybe we should organize a poll workers union?

There was a long wait to turn in the equipment and paperwork. At least the college district provided sandwiches, drinks, cookies, chips and fruit while we waited. After turn-in I still had to go back to Baytown to return my Alternate Judge whose car was in the shop. I did notice while turning in the equipment that the bond issue passed on the display in the impressive trustee's council chambers. A little expensive for an improvement bond but educational improvements I think are usually worth it.

Sunday I recuperated, 5 AM to 11 PM after three hours sleep is a long day for me now. I think the county should become aware that school and college districts have a lot less trouble getting poll workers now because of the better way they treat them. The county pretty much just covers expenses in working and you might have enough for a couple of drinks afterwards. On the local school races you could get everyone together and throw a small party.

See what else happened in local races in the Houston Chronicle's Harris County election results.

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