On November 2, 2004 I spent the day as a poll worker in a Pittsburgh voting district. Pittsburgh is part of Allegheny County, which votes on lever voting machines. Having studied voting for over a decade, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However, I was surprised at how many procedural deficiencies I observed.

I decided a while ago that I wanted to be a poll worker for this year's election. However, as a new resident of Pittsburgh I wasn't sure how to go about volunteering. I examined the Allegheny County elections web site for information, but was unable to find any. Evenutally, I called the Allegheny County Elections Division. The gentleman who answered the phone was unable to provide any information about becoming a poll worker, but promised to leave a message for a woman named "Sue" to let her know that I was interested. I didn't hear anything about becoming a poll worker until six days before the election when Sue called me to tell me she needed someone to fill in for a poll worker who had to go out of town. Sue hurridly gave me the information about what I would have to do, where I would need to go, what time I would need to report (6:30 am) how long I would need to stay (probably until about 9 pm), and how much I would be paid ($95). Then she told me that there was an optional poll worker training class downtown on Saturday, and that I would be paid $5 more (perhaps enough to cover the cost of parking) if I attended it.

So, I headed to poll worker training, eager to learn more.