Bob Balaban's Blog


    Bob Balaban


    Greasing the wheels of democracy

    Bob Balaban  January 9 2023 07:22:12 PM
    Greetings, Geeks!

    I feel a little bad about not having posted in a long time (ok, a couple of years), so here's my update:

    I've been semi-retired for 2 1/2 years, having left my full-time job at Veracode. I've been working as a part-time contractor for HCL, often thinking how strange life is -- after a 10-year hiatius from things IBM/Notes/Domino, I'm back working on it again.

    I'm having a great time, working only part-time is perfect for me, and I'm enjoying the interesting work, and the great people at HCL.

    So that's all good. But I also wanted to mention that for several years I've been a volunteer poll worker for the town I live in, Lexington, Massachusetts. Lexington, as some of you will recall from grade-school history lessons, was the locaton of the first battle of the
    American Revolution. Paul Revere, "one if by land, two if by sea", etc, etc. April, 1775. The redcoats came marching out what is now Massachusetts Avenue from Boston, on their way to Concord, where they were supposed to raid a "rebel" arms cache. On their way, they were met
    by a group of farmer/militiamen, called the "Minutemen", on Lexington green. There was a skirmish, a few people were wounded and killed, and the troops continued on to Concord. In Concord, there was another battle, the troops burned a house that contained some muskets and powder,
    and then turned around to march back to their camp in Boston, about 20 miles away.

    On their return journey, they passed again through Lexington, where they again fought with the Minutemen. From there, they continued down what is now Massachusetts Avenue back to Boston, being shot at from behind trees and stone walls all along the way. Heh heh.

    My wife and I have been volunteer workers at the election polls here in town for several years now. It's a long day, doing setup starting at 6am, managing the polls from opening at 7am until 8pm, then processing the ballots and other paperwork until about 9pm each time.

    After a few years of being an "inspector": checking people in and handing out ballots, showing people how to feed their ballots into the tabulating machine, telling people that they're not allowed to wear MAGA hats inside the polling place (a local elementary school gym), etc, we got
    promoted to "management": my wife Irene is now a "warden" (in charge of our precinct polling place), and I'm a "clerk", responsible for the tabulator machine, and signing off on some of the paperwork. Irene is officially my boss on election days. According to Massachusetts law,
    she is empowered to tell the police officer who always works at the polls with us to arrest people, if they are obstructing the voting process or otherwise posing a danger to voters or staff. I think that's so cool, even though she's never had a reason to exercise that particular authority.

    Most voters are perfectly nice and happy to be exercising their democratic right to vote. We poll staffers are strictly non-partisan in our jobs there, and are happy to help anyone cast their ballot. Voters in Massachusetts are not required to present an ID of any kind in order to
    vote. If they offer one, we generally tell them it isn't required, and just ask instead for their name and address, which we verify before handing them a ballot. One young woman berated me one time when I told her I didn't need to see an ID. "That's SO insecure!" she said. I
    replied, "That's the law in Massachusetts, and we follow the law". She voted anyway.

    Sometimes people thank me for working at the polls, which is nice. I usually just say, "Thank you for voting", because it's important that people vote, even though not enough people do it.

    So, VOTE! It's important.

    Geek ya later!

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