Continued from Dec 27, 2013.
The absolute worst experience was the Poll Watcher from Hades. Technically, watchers are illegal because they have historically been used to intimidate people to sway an election or be completely barred from voting. Official Challengers are permitted to question if someone is permitted to vote in a precinct. They are to address the election judge and never directly interact with the voter. According to the League of Women Voters – Minnesota, “Actual cases of fraud are rare. There have been many investigations, but few cases have been substantiated. Then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer reported that only 14 people out of approximately 2,800,000 voters fraudulently cast ballots during the 2004 election in Minnesota– a fraud rate of .0005 percent.” The Minnesota registration system works very well and there are only tiny problems.
Several years ago I was Head Judge of a very large precinct. Harold had been at the poll before but was excessively aggressive and frightened the judges and voters during this stressful time. I reiterated the State of Minnesota guidelines regarding behavior of Challengers at the polling place. As soon as I left the room, Harold ignored the rules so I had to give him a verbal warning of “One more violation and you will be asked to leave the premises.” He went ballistic and started yelling at me. He stormed out of the room and I knew enough to call the Ward Judge. The Ward Judge is a logistical support person for the precincts and can usually solve most of the problems. Plus, he kept stealing snacks that the judges had brought to share with each other.
Harold called in a Republican Party lawyer to yell at me. The lawyer wasn’t from Minnesota and didn’t really know our laws. He threatened me with arrest and a lawsuit. I told them that they needed to depart or my next step would be to have them removed by the Police Department. They retaliated by calling in representatives from the Secretary of State’s office. Two of Mary Kiffmeyer’s enforcers showed up to coerce me, when they were supposed to be neutral. Thankfully, the Ward Judge showed up and called in County Elections Manager. He drove over and we all sat down together in a different room. He reinforced what I had been saying all along and the goons all departed. I was shaking and nearly in tears. He reassured me that the county would provide legal coverage since I was competent. The result was no lawsuit or formal complaint was filed. I was burned out and have not returned as a Head Judge for another Presidential election.
On the same horrible day a woman accused me of assault because I accidentally bumped into her as I walked by. I had to find witnesses to verify that I wasn’t seeking to harm her and note their names and phone numbers in the poll incident log. Another woman had received a ride to the poll from an issue-group and they dropped her off. She didn’t have their name or phone number to procure a ride home so she demanded that I find her one. I had to explain that residents were responsible for their own transportation and I’d call her a cab. She demanded that I pay for it. I was flummoxed. I had just dealt with the nasty Poll Watcher and my emotional reserves were spent. Thankfully, her neighbor happened to walk by and I begged him to give her a ride home. When he said yes I almost hugged him with glee.
Be kind to judges.
Copyright © 2013 by Ima B. Musing; All rights reserved.