‘Twas the Night Before the Election

I’m headed out to Virginia today to attend a training class for poll workers. Until I started working on this story about the logistics of polling places, I never realized just how much we rely on volunteers (read: senior citizens) to carry out elections. They really take care of everything, these guys.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of volunteers will appear at polling places at 5 a.m. (!) and manage what is expected to be a record turnout. They will look up your name, direct you to a voting booth, delicately explain that you can’t wear your Obama button or your McCain t-shirt in the polling place, resolve complex legal questions, puzzle over any technical meltdowns and try to keep the line moving.

For this, they get about $100. If all goes well (and in many places, it most certainly won’t), they go home around 9 pm.

GeneralAmanda Ripley