It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 60 days since the Polish President died in a tragic accident. I wrote about it a bit in this post.
On Saturday, I woke up at 3:45AM, had a good breakfast and walked over to the Polish Consulate on 37th and Madison to take part on an election commission. I felt honored to be partaking in this momentous occasion for Poland. There were 8 of us selected to administer the voting process, make sure the records and details were accurate, oversee the vote and certify the results.
The process was really interesting; I’ll go into detail with photographs so you can understand how it works.
Voting always takes place in Poland on Sunday. All the Consulates in the United States did their voting on Saturday, so the time change would line up properly. By the time we were finished, Poland had already been voting for several hours.
The first people were allowed in to vote at 6AM, but when I arrived at the consulate, I saw several people who had been waiting to vote since 3AM.
When I came in, the setup process had just begun. I took a photo of the empty voting box.
We sealed it with our consular stamp to visibly ensure that no one tampered with the box.
Before we let anyone through the doors, every voting card had to be counted and checked several times. We would verify this count at the end to make sure no cards disappeared or were added.
First, you have to queue up based on your last name.
Then, you hand over your passport and someone from the commission checks to see if your name matches up to your voter registration. The validity of your passport is checked. If you look really close, you can find my passport photo in this picture!
You step into the booth and mark your vote with an X!
Drop your vote into the box and voila, you are finished!
During the day, media popped in and out and interviewed voters on their opinions.
Around 3,000 people registered at the Manhattan Consulate to vote. There were 17,000 in the New York area. I still need to find out how many people voted in Chicago, since that city has the largest population of Polish people outside of Warsaw.
Here’s a photo of people in the voting booth. I thought it was interesting with all the different angles their feet were pointing.
By 8PM, we closed the doors and started the counting process.
We followed the procedures the Polish government laid out for us, first sealing the ballot box and signing our names. This way, nothing else could be added after the doors were closed.
We looked through all the registration signatures and counted every one to see if they matched up with the number of voting ballots left over. After several hours of checking and double checking, we were positive that everything matched.
We then broke the seal on the voting box and began the long count ahead. After all, there were 10 separate candidates for presidency.
After the count was triple checked, we organized the ballots by candidate.
After all the candidates were checked several times, we tied the stacks with string, so that nothing could be added or subtracted and placed them into packages which would be sent to Poland.
I was at the consulate for 23 hours and went home, extremely exhausted and got about 2 hours of sleep because I had to shoot the next day. I did find out that the election did not have a majority, which is required for a winner. So, on July 3rd in New York (July 4th in Poland), there will be a second round to determine the next President of Poland.