random memes }


On election day the Orange County (California) Registrar of Voters had a number of roving people out with the title "Election Day Coordinator" (or something similar). The notion was to help out the local voting places if the ran out of supplies or had some other sort of trouble - a good idea. The number of precincts must be fairly large - there are 1495824 total registered voters in OC, and about 960 in my precinct. Assuming other precincts were of similar size that makes for ~1500 precincts. Since our "coordinator" was covering 6 voting places, that would put the number of "coordinator" at ~250. Now I don't think the RoV office has anywhere near that many people, so they must be pulling in people from somewhere.

The election day coordinator that walked into my voting place looked amused - every time.

Now I have a fondness for puzzles, but this is too much - just exactly what was so amusing??

Admittedly I did not have to work very hard this election. There were three high school girls (actually one I think is now in college) that worked very well together handling the people as they came in. There was a older woman from up the street that easily handled the controller for the voting machines.

That meant I only had to handle the exceptional cases. During idle times I answered email (with a 802.11g connection - an advantage to hosting the voting place at your house), and did some reading.

An odd observation - I have an unfair advantage. Confused voters often were not keen on accepting advice from teenage girls. As a middle-aged white male, I had no such difficulty.

I see this in the voting place. The girls would try to help handle the odd cases (and they did a fair job), but some folks did not look assured. I could step in, and while likely offering the same advice, could help folks understand and become confident in their choices.

I see something like this even when out hiking ... don't ask me to explain.

In any case, the end result as a group was to make the day's voting go smoothly. Discounting the voters' (justified) mild frustration with the new voting machines, there was no real trouble.

The very first time I volunteered to help in an election (several years back) to my surprise they made me an "Inspector". The role of the Inspector is to run the local polling place. What I did not know was that it was important to remind the other poll workers to show up - and on election day no one else did! Yikes! After a somewhat urgent(!) call to the Registrar of Voters, they pulled in a girl from another precinct to help. The two of us ran the polling place alone - which made for a very intense day.

Needless to say this time I made sure to call all the poll workers well ahead of time. They did indeed all show up, had more help than in any prior year, and the day went very smoothly.

Which leaves me with a puzzle. Just what did our election day supervisor find so amusing? What is worse - I cannot remember her name. I have always had trouble with names. For some reason I can remember an interesting article or algorithm I saw ten years ago, but cannot remember a person's name a few minutes later. Argh.

On an entirely different note - winced a bit when I saw the Registrar of Voters website. A classic nested tables layout that does not adapt gracefully to changes in screen width. Now in part we have to cut the website author some slack, as surely the site was originally written to work with the mash of browser versions common only a few years ago. But still ... this could be better.

Mostly as a exercise I took their homepage and re-worked to use clean HTML 4.0 and CSS. Could do more with this (of course) but this is an exercise only. (There is something odd with the Korean & Chinese characters - they render on my desktop but not on my notebook).