I’ve mentioned before that my 75 year-old mother is the superintendent of her precinct in South Dakota. I was talking to her the other day about next week’s primary, and she was a little worked up. This is the first year that the county combined precincts, so and she and her two co-workers (they’re all about her age) now have 750 voters in her precinct, up from a previous 500, which she thinks is too many, mainly because of the onerous
voter suppression photo id laws passed a few years ago.
If a voter comes to the precinct without a photo id, here’s what the poll workers can do:
If the member [of the precinct election board, i.e., my mom and her elderly co-workers] cannot determine from the personal identification presented that the person making an application for ballots is the person listed on the voter registration list, the member may consider other forms of identification, personal knowledge and an explanation from the person making an application for ballots to match that person’s name to a name on the registration list. If identity cannot be proven to the satisfaction of the member of the precinct election board or if the person making an application for ballots is challenged on the basis of identity by a member or a poll watcher, the person may vote a provisional ballot.
The bolded part is where Mom does all her work. She said she spends a lot of election day on the phone tracking down people who know a person who showed up at the polls without a photo id. She also spends time explaining the law to them, dealing with people twice because they have to go home and get the id they forgot, and helping them fill out provisional ballots if all else fails.
Mom explained to me that she is finally getting minimum wage for her efforts, after a little struggle with the county, who had been paying $4.00/hour for their labor. Luckily, in her little town, there are lots of on-the-ball retirees who have time on their hands and a desire to help out even though they’re getting paid very little. We’ll see if those three little old ladies can handle half again as many voters on their watch next week. I’m expecting to hear an earful.