Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Working At The Polls - The GOP Dirty Trick

Yesterday I witnessed the democratic process from the inside. I volunteered as a clerk for a precinct polling place and spent the day signing in voters and checking ID’s. It was a very hectic day that started at 6:15 am and for me didn’t end until 6:00pm when I had to end my shift to make my local precinct convention. To say it was exhausting would be an understatement.

We had over a thousand voters in the Democratic primary in the precinct I worked. Interestingly enough, it was set up in a church gymnasium right across from the Republican primary. Their table looked bored, as a few people each hour showed up to vote in the GOP primary. The Democrat side was non-stop. We had a line at 6:30am ready to vote when the polls opened at 7:00am and it didn’t let up until almost 10:00am. Luckily there was a lull and we had time for a much needed bathroom break.

Many of the votes I met had rarely voted and quite a few were first timers. This gave me a great deal of hope for our country. Unfortunately, many of the people who showed up had no clue as to what was involved. Voter registration cards were often missing, but with the help of a data-base we could look up the voters and check their registration. A few had to be turned away because they had showed up at the wrong location and some just didn’t show up in any voter rolls at all. I guess that is par for the course, but this was my first experience behind the table and it was eye opening.

Now to the strange part. A few dozen voters pointedly asked if they could vote in the Democratic Primary even if they were Republicans. In Texas the answer is “yes” since we have an open primary system, however I had to explain to them that it would preclude them voting in the Republican Primary. Most were unfazed by this, and several expressed frustration with the GOP ticket, feeling they had a better choice in the Democratic field. Before anyone goes screaming voting irregularities, let me say that these folks told me this unsolicited and some even let me know that they were voting for Obama because he was a better candidate than McCain.

Even stranger were the people who asked pointedly if they could vote for Hillary Clinton and no other races. “Of course they could”, I replied since you can choose not to vote for any race in the primary. The real interesting comment came when some of these GOP voters told me they had been told by radio talk-show hosts to vote in the Democratic Primary for Hillary since she would be easier to beat than Obama. That happened about a dozen times. I don’t think it made any real difference in the outcome of the vote, but it does send a chilling message to the party. IN the eyes of many GOP, Hillary is a better opponent to McCain than Obama. That means they feel she would be easier to target with attack ads and the usual GOP dirty tricks. After all, they had 8 years to get that attack ready while she was First Lady and you can be assured we will begin hearing about Vince Foster and Whitewater and they whole impeachment thing again any day now.

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