Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Access Denied: My experience at my local precinct.
State Media and Public Access to Polling Places
Note: This chart lists state laws regulating media and public access to polling places. In practice, access may vary significantly from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Only poll workers and voters actively engaged in voting may be within the voting booth area, but members of the public may be in the polling place to observe provided they do not interfere with the voting process.
Observers may ask poll workers questions regarding election procedures so long as they do not distract them from their duties.
Voters may not be photographed, videotaped or filmed entering or exiting a polling place or within a polling place without their explicit permission.
Some counties and jurisdictions have different regulations but the state policy regarding media and pollsters requires them to be at least 25 feet from the polling place before speaking to voters. 35 (emphasis mine.)
So, I voted today. At lunchtime, here at the old "Branch Cascadian" compound. (Don't ask.)
Bad day at work, but at the end I thought I would visit the clubhouse where the voting was taking place to ask the nice young man I had seen earlier how the turn-out had been, what impressions he might have formed, etc. (He seemed progressive.) I said I had a little blog and just wanted to report about one small slice of the vote. It was 30 or so minutes before the polls closed.
Well, another poll worker, a fellow "Branch Cascadian" got her damn panties in a twist and she and another of the ladies behind the cafeteria tables demanded I leave. Some weird guy with a ton of 3G gear got busy on the phone.
I managed to exchange e-mail addresses with the seemingly nice young man before I was hounded out. As I left, it seemed that my answer to her inquiry, "What blog?" pissed her off further.
I went home, changed out of my work clothes, and walked back down to the clubhouse/polling place, popping in the back (unlocked) door at precisely 8:02pm. I felt like trying again.
Well, you would have thought some felony was being committed. It was "polls are closed" this and "clubhouse is closed" that (by now they had the compound manager involved in the effort to keep me from observing). My god, you'd have thought I was subverting the whole vote, for fuck sake. At no time did I interfere with the voting procedures or the duties of any poll worker.
I reminded our commandant and the objecting poll workers and anyone in listening distance that I, as a citizen, a voter and especially as a disabled Veteran, had a right to observe. The G3 phone guy ran for the hills as I was hounded out by little old ladies for the second time.
Didn't seem worth it any more.
Catch you later.....