Burke 175, Walker 3: Exit Polling in the Inner City, Part 2

07 Nov

This is part 2.  Part 1 is here.

And so it happened that at 6:45 a.m., Madam Election Official (I’m chagrined to say I never got her name) understandably didn’t have time to deal with a superfluous exit pollster like me. She was busy setting up voting machines and organizing her team, and when I hovered and introduced myself, I felt a bit like a fly at a summer picnic. She did, however, direct me to sign a sheet for election observers (which I wasn’t really) and then on my own I proceeded to set up in the warm and cozy hallway, hoping for the best. Though she would ask me to move a few feet from my original place, I would be in this basic nook right next to exiting voters for the full day.

When 7 a.m. arrived, so did the crowds. By the end of the day, more than 1,000 voters would come through wards 150 and 170 – I was told the average had previously been 500 or 600. It was going to be a banner day for democracy at Westside Academy One, not to mention a banner day for Mary Burke.  More on that later…

They give you a line to use when approaching voters. Look them in the eye, and say, “Hi, I’m taking a short confidential survey for the news. Would you please take a moment to fill it out?” I bring a bunch of clipboards and have a good system, using brief down times to prepare each clipboard with a pen and the survey itself. At the end of my spiel, I hand them the clipboard nonchalantly, assuming that of course they will take part. Why wouldn’t they? It’s for democracy…of course. If the voter turns you down or you just miss someone in the rush, you mark “missed” or “refused” down on a tally sheet and guess at a brief demographic for sex, age, and race. When I am turned down, the extremely brief frustration I feel makes me want to guess them 10 years older than they probably are; but I successfully resisted the bitterness.

And I was scrambling. Edison uses scientific random sampling to get accurate results. Two years ago in Madison, I was tasked to interview every fourth voter. You count them as they pass – in slow periods, I actually mark them down as they pass because I’m scatterbrained enough to blow this. So mentally, I’m thinking, “One, two, three – the next one’s my guy (or gal)!” But this year at Westside Academy One…my instructions were to approach every person. Yeah, that’s right: every single voter.

And from 7 a.m. on, I was slammed, moving pretty constantly. I had a confidence deflator early on when a young gal turned me down and the crowd of 6 or 7 others she was with followed suit (“Yeah, you only think you’re 25 – you’re really about 40.”), but I picked myself up by the seat of my pants and started getting a lot of voters to do my thing. In a couple of hours, scrambling on my feet, I was starting to feel bushed. So it was a real delight when Larry arrived…(to be continued here)

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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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