Today is Primary Day in New York State, the first time in 40 years that the primary has been meaningful for both parties.
My voting place is in a public school a few blocks away from where I live. I went to my election district table, got the ballot on paper inside a manila folder, and sat down to fill in the “bubbles.” On the left were the names of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (I got the Democratic ballot), and on the right were a list of six delegates pledged to Sanders and six delegates pledged to Clinton. I filled in my bubbles, went to the scanner, fed in the ballot, and started to leave.
On my way out, I noticed a poll worker trying to answer a ballot question for a young woman who wondered why, or even whether, she had to vote both for the candidate and delegates, or if it was okay to vote for just candidate or delegates. He didn’t seem to have a clear-cut answer, repeatedly saying, “That’s your choice.” I thought I knew the answer, but wasn’t sure.
Outside, beyond the polling boundary, there was a table of Clinton people, so I stopped to ask if they knew how to fill in the ballot properly. I was told that delegates were assigned based on the percentage of votes for each candidates, so if one voted for delegates but not candidate, your vote wouldn’t count, but if you voted for candidate and not delegates, your vote would count. Got that? Best, of course, if you voted for both candidate and delegates – though probably you shouldn’t vote for Hillary as candidate and then for Sanders delegates, or would your vote for Hillary add to her percentage, thus to her delegate count? Very confusing.
I decided to be helpful, went back to school, and the young woman was still talking to the poll worker. I explained what I’d learned to both of them. But I did think the poll worker should have been better trained – he wasn’t a regular employee of the Board of Elections, just hired for primary and election day. And I do hope the campaign worker I talked to was right.