Working election had share of surprises

As a good citizen, I worked the recent provincial election.

No, I didn't hustle for a politician, I was a poll clerk on the day of the election.Jeff Hurst new

During a visit to the local mall in late May, I saw the Elections Ontario office and decided to do my duty and make some money at the same time.

I even talked my wife Angela into taking part in the democratic process. And after three hours of paid training, we were ready.

Angela and I were assigned to the same voting location, but different polls. Considering that I was a poll clerk and she was a DRO (Deputy Returning Officer), she would have been my boss if we had been at the same poll. Dodged that bullet.

On the day of the election, we were in place at 8 a.m. to set up signs, prepare voting boxes and make sure we had brought enough food for the 12 hours that the polls were open. I couldn't even run across the street to grab my first coffee of the day. Luckily, our roving supervisor took pity on me and picked up some java.

The election process is filled with categories, lists that must be checked and double checked, followed by enough official envelopes to keep any civil servant happy for months.

During our training day, we were given various scenarios that could cause a problem – improper ID, no ID, accepting a ballot and then the voter declining to fill it out, not being on the official list. My voters were ready and amiable. My wife experienced every training day scenario and every example of disgruntled voter. She dealt with each disaster with a smile and enthusiastic tone.

Hey, 99 per cent of people who came through the door were pleasant and respectful.

But that one per cent?

"Why don't you have electronic voting? It's my democratic right to vote electronically."

"I don't have ID, but I've lived in this area for 52 years. This is BS."

"What do you mean I'm not on the list? I swear you people got your heads up your asses."

After 12 hours, the polls closed and now it was time to make sure that the numbers of voters tallied with the number of ballots. Surprisingly it worked and we headed off to the mall to drop off our official election bag.

That's when the storm hit. The Elections Ontario office was in complete chaos. We couldn't go to the office because people were still counting ballots, so we were told to drop off our bags on a table in the mall. Then an official brought out some boxes where we could drop off Envelopes A, B, and C. Now, I was getting frustrated.

An orderly process had fallen apart and it made our democratic system look shoddy.

We were home by 10:30 p.m. and listening to the announcement of a Liberal majority.

Would I do it again. Probably. But the process definitely needs a few professional tweaks to run smoother.


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