Feeds

Iowa: How the vote was won

The view from the front line

High performance access to file storage

Voting is relatively light, but I am working like a demon, processing paperwork for three or four EDRs at a time. When the desk is crowded with people filling out forms, I work the line, handing out forms and explaining procedures so they will be ready when they reach the desk. The main desk is having problems getting voters back and forth to my desk, so I am relocated to center court. Everything is now revolving around me. By 9am I have processed dozens of EDRs.

That causes a new problem. The Republican headquarters sees the early statistics online and objects. They claim our precinct has a disproportionate number of EDRs. They think a massive, coordinated fraud is occurring - that the whole precinct is conspiring to give ballots to unqualified voters. So they send two more poll watchers to watch me specifically. They take seats directly to the left and right of me. They watch my every move, waiting to catch me committing fraud or making errors, hoping they can challenge a voter and deny them a ballot.

But I am applying the law scrupulously and fairly. I turn away a few EDRs due to inadequate ID, I recommend they run home and return with more documentation. The precinct is small so most of them return in minutes and go on to vote. A few are indignant over the extra hassles, but I assure them we must apply the law correctly in order to ensure that everyone's vote will count.

The poll watchers observe me closely for six hours. They cannot believe what they are seeing. There is a line of EDRs at my desk, it never ends, but I am working at an incredible pace. I have studied these procedures in the back office for over a week and nobody is waiting in line more than 15 minutes. This is not a massive fraud, it is just one person - me - furiously working the system as it was designed.

The poll watchers are not supposed to talk to me, but they begin to chat and I am surprised to discover they admire what I am doing. One of them says he has never seen someone work so hard. He asks me what I am doing after the election, I tell him I am going back to freelance writing, in other words unemployment. He then surprises me with an offer of a clerical job at his business. I am not sure if I want to work for an agent of the GOP's voter suppression army, and I am definitely fed up with clerical work, so I respond noncommittally. But inside, I am laughing - he has admitted defeat. By 3pm the poll-watchers give up and leave the precinct.

Late in the evening, only four EDRs have not yet returned with more documentation. At 8:55pm, one final EDR returns, the last voter of the day, and we all burst into applause!

I regret not being able to save every voter, but those I could not save sacrificed their votes on behalf of the others. If I did not turn away EDRs as required by law, if I had stretched the rules, the poll-watchers could have shut me down and stopped me from re-enfranchising all the others. At the end of the day, I have rescued about 25 per cent of all votes cast in my precinct by re-registering them as EDRs.

Everyone has worked to exhaustion, but there is no time to lose, we must close the polls and report the results before we can leave. The sooner we finish, the sooner we go home. But we are all overtired and this is all taking far too long. It is 10:30pm before the final task begins: recording the write-in votes. I have been loafing so I am assigned this onerous task, since nobody wants to do it.

I am prohibited by law from disclosing what I saw on the ballots, other than the write-in names (which are a public record). I hope what I saw is merely representative of a small fraction of lunatic voters who are crazy enough to use write-in votes. I record four Ron Paul votes and several prank votes including Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. These write-in votes will be dutifully reported to the public in a table, as a number in a column labeled "WI". indistinguishable from one another.

Called for Obama

As we completed the final tasks, I noticed the gymnasium janitors are waiting to lock up the building, and they are watching the election returns on TV in the next room. I can hear speeches and the distant voices of Obama and McCain, but I can't make out what they are saying. I go in to watch the TV. Statistics stream across the screen but I am unable to make sense of any of it. The janitor tells me that Iowa was called for Obama at 9pm when the polls closed. Obama is so heavily favored in Iowa that the TV pundits report his victory without waiting for the results. But while we still labored to count the votes, Obama has been declared the President-Elect. It is a landslide.

I have told this story not to boast of my own actions, as I can scarcely believe an amateur like me is allowed to be of service. I wrote this to honor the voters, elected officials and their deputies, and the system that allows anyone to get involved and maintain our rights to vote. Of myself I have done nothing - I have merely acted as the laws decreed. Many other PEOs have done what I have done, and more. In 2012, another dedicated PEO will take my place. Now the election is over and I have been cut loose. I turned in my Precinct Elections Official badge, I no longer serve any purpose to the State of Iowa. My job is done. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.