This week I completed the four online training modules required to serve as an election judge with the Chicago Board of Elections. Some of the material in the training is basic good sense about treating people courteously, dressing professionally, and not influencing peoples’ votes (!), but lots of it is quite technical and detailed, and I’m relatively certain I’m going to forget, for example, the precise responsibilities of a judge at station 1 versus a judge at station 2.
But I’m trained and I have the certificate to prove it.
Is this the foundation on which free and fair democratic elections rest, a wide-eyed citizenry with peel off name badges and a few hours of online training? Throughout the training I kept thinking, “Surely there’s someone else, some experienced election professional with a phone and a clipboard who knows how to reboot the touchscreen voting booth turn away politicos inside the 100 foot no-campaigning zone.” I kept waiting to learn about the team of experts who diffuse polling place chicanery and administer technical support. I’m still waiting.
Perhaps the real foundation of free and fair elections is a mature and patient citizenry that resists such chicanery and can endure a certain level of technical disruption.