By Kim Maire
Pictured: Volunteer driver Kim Maire (right) with Wellesley College students voting at the Wellesley Free Library.
It's showtime! The big day! The climax! It's Tuesday, Nov. 6, and for the League of Women Voters of Wellesley, this day prompts excitement, enthusiasm, and most of all, action, because it's voting day.
Voter turnout hit an impressive 77 percent this year, but no matter the turnout, keeping precinct polling places operating smoothly requires lots of organization and staffing. According to Town Clerk KC Kato, Election staff totaled 93, and included a Warden, Clerk (deputy warden), Inspectors (check-in/check-out/tabulator manager) and Early Voting (EV) Inspectors (early voting between October 22-Nov. 2), and EV processors at each polling place. League members filled many of these roles.
The day went relatively smoothly, in spite of the heavy turnout. “We’re aware of two glitches – one machine jammed (a bad thing) and we ran out of [League-supplied] stickers (a good thing)!” said Kato by email.
According to League volunteer Irene Flint, Precinct B was the site of one glitch. League member Diane Campbell and another worker discovered that the ballot machine was acting up and rejecting ballots. Irene arrived around 1:30 pm for the late shift and they averted crisis, with the tech support of MLP office manager Terry Connolly. Once the machine was up and running again, four young women from Dana Hall took turns feeding in the ballots. “It was quite the day at Precinct B! Not a single dull moment,” said Irene.
Rain plagued afternoon voters, when six League volunteers were on call to give rides to voters who needed transportation to their polling places. Volunteers Erry Johnson and Kim Maire gave free rides to six voters - students from Babson College, Wellesley College and disabled voters from the community - to cast their votes at Precincts A, D, F and G polling sites.
A special project awaited Ellen Hallett on Election Day. She chaperoned three Wellesley High School students who were collecting data for their American Electoral Politics class. The students, two seniors and a junior, were assigned to a Boston polling place to collect exit polling data on Election Day at a Fenway location on Jersey Street for the afternoon shift from 1 to 7 p.m. The students asked exiting voters ten questions of a demographic and political nature that they will subsequently analyze. “It was wet, cold and fascinating experience. Great students!” said Ellen.
The importance of voting can never be overstated, and the League is grateful for the opportunity to facilitate the process in any way. Thanks to K.C. Kato, our Town Clerk, who invited the League to participate at the precincts. We also thank all the volunteers who helped out, like the students from Dana Hall School, and kudos to everyone who took the time out of their busy day to vote!