EAST FLATBUSH — Today there are numerous reports of broken scanners, but let’s address the issue of poorly trained poll site workers too.
Around 8:00 am this morning I walked into my polling site at the Susan McKinney in East Flatbush. While on line, poll workers instructed voters to “vote down the party line” pointing to the Democratic line.
Like a good citizen, I politely told the poll worker she should not be instructing voters to cast their ballot for a specific line, because essentially instructing people to vote down a party line is telling them they can’t cross party lines, right?
“If you zigzag, the machine won’t take it,” is what I was met with.
Another poll worker who was scanning ballots ran to the rear to chime in. She also concluded voters aren’t allowed to cross party lines.
So, again like a good citizen, I took my 38-inch long ballot, filled in my choices, helped the few voters who were now looking to me for advice, and left.
But, like a great citizen and a journalist, I went back to speak to the site’s observer. Unfortunately, Diana C. Russell was also under the impression that voters can’t cross party lines. That’s until she called the “special hotline” some poll workers have access to for those “tough” questions. She recanted and pulled aside about four poll workers to advise them of the “new” rule.
She’s not alone. The process can be daunting. But the Board of Elections and local district leaders must make sure they’re properly training poll workers before the election.
I understand poll workers are paid about $200 to sit at a site and guide us through the process for 15 hours. Maybe the fix is more money. Maybe it’s just more training. Maybe it’s a complete overhaul of the process and allowing for early voting. I don’t know the answer but it needs to be fixed!