There’s no talking politics on the job. Try not to wear red or blue. No snooping through electronic records to see whether your neighbor is lying about her age. Bring plenty of food for a day that will run from 5 a.m. to as late as 9 p.m. Most important, assistant registrar Keith Heyward told volunteer poll workers in a recent training class, is try to put voters at ease. Months of news reports about photo IDs and other changes have left them confused and leery.“People are coming to the precincts expecting you to give them a hard time,” Heyward said. “We don’t need you to give them a hard time.”
After two conventions, four debates, hundreds of candidate appearances and billions in advertising, the 2012 election will come down to this: a brief and fragile connection between voter and poll worker. On Nov. 6, a one-day workforce of nearly 1 million will open the doors to about 130,000 polling places across the country. The question is, are they up to it?