Election Recap (aka the best laid plans…)

Durham, Elections, North Carolina Comments Off on Election Recap (aka the best laid plans…)

I started writing up my day as an election judge and then life intervened and I didn’t get it done. But, I had set myself up that I wanted to get it done before doing anything else, so the longer it went, the worse it got. I felt I couldn’t write anything new without finishing my election recap. So, I’m now backing off on that and presenting here an abbreviated version of my election recap so I can get on with life and actually post again.

P1010081.JPGElection day for me started early. Very early! I woke up at 4:15am and left my house in south Durham before 5:30am so I could be at the NC School of Science & Math by 6am. I’m an “emergency [election] judge” in Durham county, meaning I fill in where other judges cannot during an election, and as an unaffiliated voter, I can serve as a replacement judge for either party. For this election I was filling in for the Republican party judge in precinct 4 who was unable to be here for the election. We had set everything up the night before, so we were pretty good to go and opened the doors right at 6:30am.

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We had a line waiting for us as we opened the door and for the next two hours turnout was fairly heavy. We got about 200 votes over those 2 hours.  After that it slowed down quite a bit.  I talked for a while with our other judges and election officials and because I was the judge with the least to do (because my main function was watching over the ballot machine), I ended up processing curbside voters.

P1010021.JPGThe big news of the morning was that our chief judge had talked to someone the night before that had said the Bill Clinton was planning to come by, probably sometime between 5-7pm.  We weren’t really sure if it was the real thing, though. 

We had brought quite a bit of food to snack on and had planned to call up and order lunch from Elmo’s and have my wife bring the order by, since we couldn’t, by law, leave the polling place.  When we went to order lunch, though, neither of the other judges were hungry and the other officials were only working a half day, so I ended up being the only that that ordered lunch.

P1010067.JPGAbout 2-ish, we had someone come by and say that the democratic party office had told him Bill Clinton would be arriving at 3:30.  Sure enough, we started seeing Secret Service and State Police outside.  We didn’t want anyone voting to miss the opportunity to see the former president, so we made periodic announcements about his imminent arrival and worked out a schedule so that officials could go outside to see him and we’d still have everything covered.  I managed some provisional ballots while our Chief Judge was out trying to see Clinton and then I went out to try to see him myself.  I managed to get lucky and both shake his hand and get this picture of him.  He looked very tired, not surprisingly.

The main problem, however, with Clinton’s visit was that the police ended up blocking off our handicap parking and curbside voter location.  In fact, I ended up walking down the street to process two curbside voters while Clinton was visiting.  I understand the need for security, but the primary reason we were there that day was to vote, not to see Clinton and I fault his group a bit for that.

Other things that happened that day include running out of under 18 ballots and getting more delivered.  We also processed over 20 provisional ballots! (By contrast, the last election they said they only processed a very few provisional ballots, under 5.)

By the time 7:30 came around, we had started taking things down and closed down the polls right on time since there was no one waiting to vote.  We hooked up the ballot machine to the phone line to transmit the results and may have actually transmitted them twice since it wasn’t clear if it went through the first time. (Note that they aren’t actually counted twice since it is the same data.)  We broke everything down, loaded up and the chief judge and other judge headed off to the BOE for the audit. (Normally only the chief judge goes, but our chief judge has an eye disability where she can’t drive at night so the other judge drove her.) The chief judge was concerned about making it to the BOE in time, but I heard later that she ended up being the first precinct to make it to the BOE for the audit!

So, all in all, it was a very long, but good day.  We had over 60% of the registered voters in the precinct vote, and this is just a primary!  It will be interesting to see what the general election brings.

Also, it looks like there will be a runoff for 2 primaries.  This will entail a runoff primary on June 24.  I will again be working as an election official that day and have been assigned to work precinct 4 again.  However, this time, instead of expecting 800 voters, we’ll basically be expecting 8. So, not only will that be a very long day, but probably a very boring day.  If only the General Assembly had actually taken up the “Instant-Runoff Voting” bill a few years ago.

Anyway, now that the recap is out of the way, I can finally start posting again.  I want to post about the Trips for Kids Triangle group I went biking with this weekend that takes inner city youth out for mountain biking rides and there’s the Ride of Silence I went to tonight.  Also, I’ve been getting ready to head down to Orangeburg, SC this weekend for the National Sport (High Power Rocketry) Launch with the National Association of Rocketry and I’m busy building a couple of high power rockets.  But more on all that later!

Strong Storms on Mother’s Day?

Durham, North Carolina Comments Off on Strong Storms on Mother’s Day?

I’m still writing up my experience as an election judge on Tuesday. I hope to have that done and up by later today. In the meantime, however, I just got an e-mail today from the National Weather Service about the fact that our current weather patterns are looking suspiciously like the weather patterns 2 years ago before Mother’s day. If you recall, the NWS issued 65 warnings that one day, had nearly 100 reports of severe weather including hail up to 2 inches in diameter, 1 F1 tornado, 3 F0 tornados and straight line wind damage. It wasn’t a really good day weather-wise. So, it seems that our local NWS is trying to learn from the past and is concerned that things are heading that way again. With Mother’s day celebrations and graduation at local universities, this could be problematic. So, they’re trying to get the word out for people to be on the lookout. The presentation they’re sending out is here.

If you’re interested in severe weather, you might want to look into joining Skywarn. Our local skywarn program trains people to recognize severe weather and report it. Why do we need this when we have radar, you might ask? Well, radar signals are well and good, but they travel in straight lines and the earth is curved. So, radar can’t tell you what is actually happening on the ground and that is where skywarn comes in. Skywarn is very valuable to the NWS and can use all the trained spotters it can get.

Home From the Election

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After working 14 hours as an election judge today I’m now home and utterly exhausted.  I’ll write up my thoughts on the process tomorrow, but until then, here’s a photo of someone who stopped by my precinct (well, outside it) and who’s hand I got to shake.

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Full set of pictures here.

Primary election tomorrow

American Tobacco Trail, Classical Music, Durham, Elections, Music, North Carolina Comments Off on Primary election tomorrow

I went to the Obama rally at UNC last week and had a great time.  Unfortunately, it went very late and I didn’t get to bed until 2am which wiped me out for basically the rest of the week.  Obama is a fabulous orator and really knows how to work a crowd.  As a Christian, I was a bit disappointed that the event started with an extremely long prayer.  I’d much rather see him upholding separation of church and state.  But, that’s not enough of an annoyance to make a big difference.

Last Tuesday evening, I went to the meeting about the future American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40.  Architecht/Engineer Steven Grover showed off a bunch of designs that were rejected and then 3 that were still in contention: a truss bridge like the one in Raleigh, an arched bridge, and a cabled stayed bridge that I really like.  Everything on the cable stayed bridge evokes triangles and for a bridge in the heart of the Triangle I think it’s really appropriate.  I hope that’s what we go for.

This weekend was the Strawberry Festival for Central Park School for Children.  I spent the morning scooping strawberries onto shortcake and then wandered around with my son until heading home to change into a tuxedo and pick up my double bass for the Durham Symphony Orchestra concert at the farmer’s market at Durham Central Park.  We had a very large crowd and except for a bit of wind had a good concert.  I’m really looking forward to the fall when the symphony starts back up.  We’ve got a good slate of guest conductors for the upcoming year and I’m really looking forward to see what they will do.

Tonight, I helped setup the polling place at the school of Science & Math.  I’ll be there tomorrow from 6am until at least 7:30pm as an election judge.  If you have already voted, great!  If you have not, please make sure to go vote tomorrow.  It doesn’t matter who you vote for, but please do go vote.

Assuming I’m not completely wiped tomorrow night, I’ll have more information about how tomorrow goes.

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