Working at NSW State Election 2015

I finally recovered from one of the busiest weekends I ever had. A week ago, I blogged about how I was starting work with the NSW Electoral Commission at the NSW State Election 2015 last Saturday and now I’m gonna blog how it went.

Working at the election was a great learning experience for me and it would be something I want to do again. It was also a very long and eventful day. So I found out that the NSWEC gave me the wrong shift. Originally I was supposed to start in the late afternoon but I received a phone call at 8:02 in the morning on Saturday. Being half asleep in the morning figuring who it was, I answered it and it was one of the polling managers.

He asked me where I was and that I was late. Being confused and not really knowing what was happening, I told him that the letter they sent me says my shift starts at 5:30pm but he said on the roster he received, I was supposed to start work at 8am. I realised that they made a mistake so the manager asked me how long will I take to get there and I told him it’d take me 10 minutes. He also said to me that I had to meet another manager at the polling booth when I arrive there.

After the phone call, I had to rush out of bed and get ready. I was really stressing out because I was running late for work since it was my first time but It was lucky I live close by where the polling booth is at. Otherwise, I would have panic more and you know how I really have bad anxiety since I was a kid. Anyway, it didn’t take long to get there and there weren’t not many cars on the road which was good. On the way walking to the booth, I had to ask people (the ones who give you papers telling which party to vote) for directions because I didn’t know where I was supposed to check in

I did manage to find the place in the end and met the manager who I was supposed to meet. I had to apologise to him for being late and explain the situation that they gave me the wrong starting time. The manager was totally fine about it which was such a relief for me and he just explained to me what my role was for the day. He also introduced me to the people who I was working with (which were a guy and a girl) and they seem pretty friendly. I was also given a really cool blue vest uniform with one of those tag things that go around your neck. I forgot what the name was but it just tells people that you’re one of the Election Officials. I don’t know why but wearing a uniform makes me feel special. It’s like one of those awesome feelings that you’re proud of. I know, it’s a bit lame but still pretty awesome, right? Because you don’t get to wear that every day.

Before I started work, I had to vote so that was out of the way and it was good there wasn’t a lot of people early in the morning. What I did at the election during the first part of the day was mainly direct people where to vote and where they have to put the ballot papers in the boxes. I also had to help assist people if they had any inquiries. After doing that for an hour or two, they gave me a 15 minutes break which I really need because I didn’t get much sleep the previous night as I was anxious about work. As well, I got woken up by that phone call in the morning so I was feeling like I was some kind of zombie or something.

After my break, they shift us around and the manager told me what my next job was which was marking the electors off the roll book. Whenever a person comes in to vote, we have to ask them for their surname (or family name) and try to find them in the roll book. Once we find their surname, we have to ask them for their first name and which we do find them, we just marked their name off. There is also that question we always have to ask the electors if they had already voted previously for the day which can annoy some people which I totally get. They wouldn’t be there in the first place if they had already voted but it’s also a routine we have to follow otherwise, it would ruin the number of the votes. Anyway, we give them the ballot papers and every time we do, we have to sign our initials on it and then direct where to vote and after they finish voting.

Sometimes we get periods where it’s busy and there is a lot of people waiting but there are some periods where there is not a lot of people and is quiet. It reminds me of working in the food court. During lunchtime, it gets really crowded as it is a mad rush but in the morning and late afternoon, it’s quiet. I also notice you always don’t get the same people. You meet a lot of interesting people whom most of them are friendly but then are some people who are not so friendly or they might just be having a bad day or in a rush for something. I don’t know.

Working in the election is not as stressful as working in the food court because it’s pretty easy going. I did find a little bit stressful when there was a long line of voters waiting to get their name marked off because there was only two of us and you have to try to be fast but also do your job carefully. I felt like there should have been more people working with us but. maybe because the district I was working in was a small one compared to the district next to us. They had a lot of people and it was busier I notice.

I also did feel a bit of pressure like doing my job carefully and try to use my time wisely. It was something I wasn’t used to and it made me more stress because I didn’t want to make a mistake which I did a few times during the day and also I wanted to make a good impression. I had to get a lunch break because I was really stressing out and thank goodness I was able to get a break. I had to call a friend because I was feeling really panicking and had to tell him what was going on during the day.

There were a few things I wasn’t able to do like, if I didn’t understand something, I have to ask them to explain again or asked them if I’m doing this right or I’m doing that wrong. Because I was feeling stress, I wasn’t able to do the job properly which isn’t actually good because you feel more stress and there’s a cycle around this. So it was really good to talk to my friend because it cleared my head and I also needed that support so thank you, my friend, for the support! (You know who you are! ^_^)

Anyway so after a minor hiccup, I was able to go back to work. There wasn’t much to do but just the same work I’ve been doing all morning. It felt like a really slow day. When I was working in the afternoon, I met a few people who I know. Some of them who I haven’t seen since primary school and that was like back in 2001 when we graduated that year. Can you believe it’s been more than thirteen years? It’s crazy and looking back to where I was, it’s been an unbelievable journey to get to where I am now and even through those tough times when I almost gave up. It was good to catch up with them and was interesting to see what they been up to all these years.

Towards the end of the day, I talked to my manager about how NSWEC gave me the wrong starting time for work and show him the letter I received. He said he didn’t know what happened and they should have given me the correct time because the roster he received says I start work at 8am. Very confusing.

At 6pm, they closed the voting. We had to pack up and collapse the voting stands. We had to count how many ballot papers we didn’t use because the ones we didn’t use, it tells us what’s the number of votes we’re expecting. It was such a huge task because there were only two of us who had to go all through the votes because one already finishes their shift earlier in the afternoon.

I forgot how many votes we went through because we had to count both the Legislative Assembly (District) and Legislative Council (State) votes. It was probably less than 300 votes each for both LA & LC so maybe around 525 ballot papers all together? Two people had to go through all that to count and because it took us all night, we had to ask for help from other people who were working in the other district and it was such a relief that they were happy to help us. They had more people than us I think twelve people compare to us which was like two people and also the manager.

So all of us had to sort them out in parties and categories and count them. Finally, after we did all that, we packed them up in separate boxes to send to NSWEC. After that, we just clean up the hallway and packed everything like the tables and taking the signs down. We finished work at 11:30 at night. I don’t know how we were able to go all through that. I was feeling so exhausted after that long 15-hour shift. Mind you, this was my first time working for that long and kudos for people who work longer than that. I don’t know how they’re able to do it.

That was pretty much my experience working at the election. It was a big learning curve for me because it was my first time and the people who I worked with were all friendly about it. They said the first time is always the hardest but with the experience I went through, it will help me with the future so I know what to do next time. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience even though it was a long day and I will definitely do it again.

I also highly encourage others to do the same and apply for work at the election. It’s a really easy job to do and it also looks good on your resume. You get paid as well which is really good for one day work. Oh, I forgot to tell you guys, they also give you a manual book to go through beforehand and it explains the general information and tells you what to do. It’s good for first-timers. All that anxiety I had leading up to the day of the election was all for nothing! I was only anxious because I didn’t know what I was expecting at work and in the end, it wasn’t THAT bad.

I also ended up missing my friend’s birthday party that whole night which I kinda felt bad coz I told her I might finish early but that didn’t end up happening. So I went to visit her after I finished work and she was totally cool about it. It was good to catch up with her and also our other friends as I haven’t seen them in ages.

Hope you guys did enjoy reading this post and sorry if it was a bit too long. It was a long day and also an eventful one which is why I had a lot to write. As always, thank you guys for your ongoing support. You’ve guys been really great to me and I appreciated it! ^_^

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