Wednesday, June 8, 2016

• Ballot Collection Center

The 2016 primary election is over, but did you ever wonder what happens to the ballots after they leave the polling place? 

Yeah, me neither... but I'm going to tell you anyway. 

At least about the way station between the polls and their final resting place.
Joseph Morabito with his Junior G-Man badge.
There was a call put out for workers at the collection center (the library) on election night. 

It came with a $50 stipend (as they called it) plus a handy-dandy commemorative pin... which to me was more like a temporary badge in the service of Uncle Sam.

In total, there were 8 people: 5 raw recruits, 2 leaders and 1 lieutenant (or, that's how I saw them/us).

Among my fellow grunts there were Cami, Chris, and three teen boys, the tallest being from the Melissa Melendez family.
Had to love being photo bombed by one of the lads.
We got to the staging area, Wildomar Library, at the appointed time → 19:45 (or in civilian lingo → 7:45pm).

We signed some paperwork, including W-9 forms (gotta report that windfall of fifty bucks you know), put on ID cards, affixed our badges... errrr, I mean our pins, took an oath, set up some traffic cones and caution tape, and then waited around for a little more than an hour for the first of 28 precincts to drop off their bounty.

There were various assignments 

We had two workers that stayed behind a table in the foyer of the library. Once the first red bag and ballot carton were logged in, no one was to venture past that table but them. Not even to powder one's nose.

The most valuable items being dropped off were the voted ballot carton(s) and corresponding red transport bag. Those had to be documented, made sure that the seals were not broken, and stowed to the side until eight precincts had checked in. 

From there, the precious cargo, from the eight precincts, would then be taken to a RSO squad car, cataloged and re-cataloged again (can never be too thorough), and then driven to their next destination. 

Mind you, these ballots had already been counted, but needed to be preserved in the case of a recount.

Other Jobs included, traffic control, logging (not 'trees'  —data)lugging, loading, and stacking. 

In addition to the ballots, things that were offloaded at the site included printers (which I couldn't figure out their purpose at the polls), and boxes of unused or damaged ballots. 

There were anywhere from 6 to 10 of these [sometimes] heavy boxes, per vehicle, that needed to be put into a U-Haul.

After the first few cars trickled in, the pace picked up and the work went quickly. Once there were four cars looking to drop off their election materials at the same time.

Just as predicted by the leaders of our group, several people had forgotten their printers and had to go back to get them. 

Imagine the looks on their faces, after already having put in a full day, thinking they were a few moments from an easy chair, just to have to go back to a closed building to retrieve said items. 

At a little after 11:00pm the last car came in. We quickly broke down our work area and bid each other adieu.

In 6 to 8 weeks it'll be Cha-Ching... payday!

It was good to see up close how we Americans take our elections seriously, and many painstaking efforts are put into place to insure fair results. 

From the people working the polls, dropping off the items or receiving them, it was obvious that they (we) were all proud to be doing their civic duty.

If you're interested in such work, drop an email to Stephen Perrotte.

•        •        •

One added bonus to volunteering for this job was all the additional walking I did. Usually the evening hours have me logging TV time, not steps. 

My fitbit mates must have wondered how I amassed 23,000 steps in one day, with more than 10,000 of those coming after 7:30pm.

If doing laps around the parking lot during downtime is cheating, then I'm busted. 

•        •        •

“A blind man knows he cannot see, and is glad to be led, though it be by a dog; but he that is blind in his understanding, which is the worst blindness of all, believes he sees as the best, and scorns a guide.” 
— Samuel Butler, 1835-1902

Wildomar Rap is neither guide nor dog, though some may beg to differ over the latter.


  1. Nice blog! It was funny to see you there that night as I was leaving and you were just starting your night! Just to clarify - when the precincts drop off the ballots at the collection center(and I worked one of the precincts) the polling station workers have only counted the ballots, not the votes. The votes get counted elsewhere. Our count is just to verify that the number of ballots issued matches the number of ballots signed for by voters when they come into the polling station. If no one has participated in working either a polling station or collection center I highly recommend it, even if you only do it once it is very eye-opening. And this year with so many different ballots and so many more issues than the last election it was VERY interesting. We had many people either confused as to what it means to be registered as No Party or many who were somehow listed as Vote By Mail when they didn't want to be or the worst were those who had registration somehow switched from Republican to Democrat or vice versa. FYI- if anyone wants to check on their voter registration status go to

    1. Thanks for the clarification on counting ballots v counting votes, and I agree that everyone should volunteer for such work at least once in their lives.


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