Voters in El Granada, Princeton and Moss Beach were not turned away when the power went out on Election Day at the two precincts (#3314 and #3301) located at the Pillar Ridge Mobile Home Park. Poll workers didn’t shut the doors – and voters didn’t stop voting.
According to Precinct Inspector Joe Toschik, who is a librarian at the Half Moon Bay Library in real life and was assigned to be the head poll worker at the trailer park, the lights went off a little after 6 p.m. and it was pitch black.
The building didn’t have emergency lights.
“We only had a couple of flashlights between us, so one of the poll workers parked his car so that his headlights would beam onto the step and through the big glass window in the front of the building where we were set up,” Toschik said.
Voters were given paper ballots to fill out while the precinct officials called for technical support. (Remember those field technicians we said were deployed specially to give backup support to the polling places? Those guys and gals.) The field technicians arrived within 10 to 15 minutes, put the eSlates into battery power mode and voting resumed on the eSlate voting machines. Just like that.
“Nobody complained. Everyone took it in good spirits,” Toschik said.
“That’s the way we teach it in class,” said Greta McElroy-White, who runs precinct operations for the San Mateo County Elections Office. “We tell our poll workers, ‘you are responsible for making it possible for voters to vote on Election Day. No exceptions.’ That can mean sometimes you have to be creative. They take this message to heart.”
It also helped that McElroy-White, who just happens to be a longtime Half Moon Bay resident, called Jim Asche, a disaster coordinator for the county and former fire chief of Half Moon Bay, to ask for assistance. He enlisted Division Chief Clayton Jolley of the Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District. Jolley and his crew loaded up their spotlights (normally used for night fires) and headed over to help. They set up the lights, lit the place, and stayed on to help out. What lifesavers!
Power was restored about 7:50 pm, just ten minutes before the polls closed.
Dontcha love it? Poll workers and fire fighters working together on Election Day to make sure that no voter was deprived of their right to vote. This is Norman Rockwell stuff!