I was there in Baker County on election day and can report unfriendly, partisan poll personnel (except the deputy who was very nice) worked in Baker County at Precinct 5A. The poll workers were not terribly nice when I showed up and introduced myself at 6:45 am. I thought I'd give the benefit of the doubt to the poll workers and that it might be just a non-partisan bias ruling the roost. That lasted through the long day, until the results were reported and the poll workers were very excited to report that Bush had won by a landslide in their precinct. The poll workers said they hoped that the same results would happen elsewhere.

The voting officials in my precinct (Baker 5A) treated Democrats and Republicans differently. I know, from my own experience, that the people in control of the polling place enforced lots of anonymous "complaints" about me (as I sat passively in a low beach chair) as I waited for people to come to me if they wanted help. Complaints included:

(1) the fact that my car had a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker (they made me park it so it was not visible to people driving into the parking lot while Bush signs were allowed to park wherever they pleased);

(2) that my hat which said "Voting Rights Attorney" was objectionable (I refused to remove the hat when asked to do so by the deputy because I was breaking no laws. He agreed that the complaint was silly but was told to question me by poll workers);

(3) that I was moving Bush/Cheney signs (just silly); and

(4) that I was too close to the polling place (see below).

I was polite, offered no unsolicited information, and mostly just said hello to people.

While the election officials were extremely concerned that I was within the 50 foot margin (I was to remain at least 50 feet from the polling place as an outside observer), they allowed a Bush campaign worker come in a chat with poll workers for several minutes. I complained and they finally asked her to leave (but seemed more upset with me than the Republican worker). The same worker was parked in her car much closer to the polls than where I sat (and she had a Bush-Cheney sticker on her car. Of course, she was allowed to sit there and was not harassed at the direction of the polling place folks.

I was pretty surprised by the results in the precinct, but I was also told that local churches had given thinly veiled orders to voters to vote for Bush. Locals also told me that many Democrats there would be voting on issues near to their hearts (they don't like gays and gun rights are important). One woman leaving the polls was in tears (wearing an evangelical church t-shirt). When I asked her if she was ok, she said she was "afraid [she] voted for abortion." I told her that since she had already voted, the only thing she could do was pray that she voted the right way.

I will also say that towards the end of the day, a woman walked up to us and asked if we were poll watchers. We said yes and asked her if she was too. She seemed confused so we offered her a chair and we told her of the day and the trials and tribulations. She was saddened by the rude treatment (she was an art teacher in a school in Jacksonville) and was there to watch the polls for the Republicans. She eventually realized she was to be an inside poll worker. At the end of the evening, she said that she thought things went smoothly inside.

I would be a lot more comfortable with the results if the people had not been so rude to me because of my party affiliation. Why did they want me (the only Democratic poll watcher for 10 of 12 hours) so far from the polls?