Cranky grandpas and the next election scandal

The two older gentlemen, both volunteer poll workers, could have been best friends. Robert Duvall (at his crankiest) and Clint Eastwood (at his beardiest) could have been Oscar contenders in this heartwarming tale of friendship at any age.


Instead they were like two bedraggled cats in a mid-sized room, enough space that they didn’t have to brawl immediately, but you knew it was only a matter of time until someone lost an ear. Not quite 7:00 in the morning, thirteen hours until the polls closed, would they make it?


Working for the Department of Elections was an interesting experience. Despite their straightforward purpose, voting precincts are a tangle of regulations, procedures, and requirements. One of those requirements would prove to be the grizzled old guys’ flashpoint.


The one who looked most Ebenezer-ish was meticulously drawing lines through people’s names after they voted. But more just kept coming in and interrupting him, often without the mail-in ballot they’d been issued, which really chapped his hide and necessitated a scolding about proper electoral procedure. Once that was done he’d watch them with a myopic eagle eye for any further malfeasance, only returning to his careful task after they left the building.


The other one (who would happily be out building his own log cabin if only they still made axes worth a darn these days, harrumph!) did his best to stay occupied, but would break off mid-task to watch the slow crossing out of names at the other desk.

Statler and Waldorf

“We gotta have that done, man, it’s supposed to be posted outside, it’s federal law!” he would rage-whisper at me every time I stopped by.


Did you know every voting place has a giant list of everyone registered in that precinct, with whatever info they provided, like political affiliation, phone number, and address? This list is updated hourly, the names of everyone who has already voted crossed off, then posted outside on the street. Shall we take bets on how long until that scandal breaks, in this age of data mining and foreign election interference?

istockphoto-grumpy old man

I had eight precincts to monitor, but seven were running smoothly, so I always seemed to be leaving or returning to my septuagenarian helpers, our silverback antagonists. But they held it together. Until about 7:00, a mere hour to closing, when I walked into a preternaturally quiet room.


“So…are you all comfortable with the closing procedures?” I asked my rugged homesteader.


“Yes. Sure. Well, probably. You see…we…we had words. I just hope he does his part now.”


Oh dear. Suffice to say I spent most of the next few hours in that room, fully 98% glad I didn’t witness any jousting with walkers and canes. Now so long as I’m not in the way of the data mining scandal to come, I’ll count myself the real winner of the election.