News Photography Politics

A day working at the California Primary Election (Photo essay)

I worked 15 hours as a poll worker clerk in the California primary election Tuesday, helping voters cast their votes.

This is our polling location, a newly-remodeled house nestled in the hills of east Yorba Linda. It is a small precinct, only having 825 voters in a dozen streets.

We had a great view:

Beautiful Yorba Linda in mid-morning as the clouds started to clear up for the day.

As it was the primary election, there was an expected poor turnout. Many voters in Yorba Linda seem to vote by mail (335 out of 825 people, or 40 percent). That leaves 490 potential voters that could have voted from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

We had 108 voters. That means 22 percent of voters showed up at the polls. (See METHODOLOGY for more info).

So we had 100+ voters in 13 hours. That is a lot of free time. Luckily, I brought Insurgent by Veronica Roth, The Avengers (Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates) and Captain America (Marvel Masterworks: Captain America, Volume 6) to read!

This is the JBC (Judges Booth Controller), a computer that gives voters a code to vote and stores their votes. The clerk puts in the voter’s party and the voter is given his preferred ballot at any of the eSlate voting machines.

JBC computer.

These are the eSlate voting machines (they look like touch screens, but they use a track-ball iPod-like thing instead).

The eSlates.

The family who hosted us took care of us with sandwiches for lunch, a fully-stocked fridge of sodas and lasagna and bread sticks for dinner.

My brother Daniel, who also served as a clerk, eating his dinner.

This is my fourth time working at an election, and being a poll worker is always an exhausting but rewarding experience. I get to experience Democracy first-hand. It is great that in America, anyone can contribute to our government. I love seeing voters proudly flaunt their “I Voted” stickers.

One guy, probably in his late 40s, who zoomed to the polls in his yellow motorized bike, said he has voted in every election since he was 18 and eligible to vote.

“I wouldn’t miss it, it’s one of the perks of being an American.”

Poll workers received a primary pin (right).


-Photos and text by Tim Worden

METHODOLOGY: This is not scientific, it is my best estimate. There are some technicalities (a few voters who were Vote by Mail came and voted, so that would have some affect). I went through the list and counted the 335 Vote By Mail voters so naturally I made an error or two. So I will arbitrarily say, with the power vested in me (aka all the power in the universe), that my conclusions are true to within plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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