By William Herlong
A few weeks back, I wrote about why I decided to become a poll worker in Greenville County for this election cycle. Now, after experiencing a 14-hour day handling almost every aspect of the voting process, I want to share what I learned.
Some of my quick lessons:
- Twenty-six people who had really never worked together before came together quickly when they had a stated purpose. Industry consultants and college professors should study how poll workers organize. It could revolutionize the workplace. We all knew the outcome that we needed to accomplish, and we had certain parameters to work in, but we got to fill in the details. There were no arguments over who did what because we all rotated work during the day.
- The rush of people was unreal. I was stationed at Beck Middle School. About 150 people were lined up when we opened the doors at 7 a.m., and I wondered if other precincts experienced the same thing as the crowds came in. I learned later from people who worked at other precincts that they saw the same things. Large crowds were ready to participate in the election process, and for about the first five hours, the mass of people coming through the doors never stopped. Again, I learned many other precincts saw the same thing. I can only liken it to the famed Black Friday sales, but instead of a frenzied horde pushing and shoving for discounts, the people were extremely friendly.
- The interactions were unique. During the course of the day, I met a large cross-section of Greenvillians, and they were almost universally happy to be there. From the 18-year-old voting for the first time, to the woman who did a dance after her ballot scanned that signified she had voted, to the 88-year-old who produced a registration card that looked like it came from the Eisenhower era, they all were happy to be voting. It was infectious.
- Absentee ballots definitely affected the day. After five hours of constant people coming in the door, the crowds thinned out after lunchtime. We had a lot of downtime as the minutes clicked into hours. Experienced poll workers kept predicting rushes that never happened. We could tell that about half the precinct already had voted absentee.
- The system works. The handling and counting of the election (at least in Greenville) is jam up and jelly tight. We all knew we were under a microscope with the importance of the election, and we handled it well.
The question I ask myself, though, is: Will I do it again? It was a long day, and a long process to get certified. The chances are I will because I learned so much and want to apply that to future elections.
William Herlong is widely respected as a litigator, having tried more than 100 cases across a variety of topics including business litigation, computer law, corporate law and many more. In 2014, Herlong received the coveted Litigator Award, a prestigious distinction only given to the top 1% of lawyers in the United States. He is a former member of the Greenville County School Board and is the chief operating officer for Joan Herlong & Associates | Sotheby’s International Realty.