Poll workers needed for upcoming primary

Poll workers needed for upcoming primary

Image Credit: File

On May 3 the state of Ohio will hold primary elections. Putting together and running an election takes the work of not only board of elections staff, but also a cadre of volunteers.

At the present time, Wayne County is in need of more community members to step up and take an active role in the election by volunteering to be a poll worker.

“Poll workers are responsible for setting up the voting equipment at each location, opening the polls, helping check in voters throughout the day and closing the polls at the end of the day,” Wayne County Board of Elections election operations manager Morgan O’Rourke said.

Wayne County has 67 voting precincts, and each precinct needs four volunteers, according to O’Rourke. That means the board requires 268 volunteers to be fully staffed.

“And that number,” O’Rourke said, “doesn’t include alternates in case anyone calls off or the rovers we have who drive between the polling locations on election day providing tech support.”

Over 30 more volunteers are currently needed. All the uncertainty in Ohio regarding redistricting maps and primary dates may have caused confusion that hindered the recruiting of volunteers.

However, O’Rourke feels confident that once people know the need, they will come forward to help out. “People are really stepping up to help us out,” she said. “I think just by getting the word out we’ll get the workers we need.”

Anyone interested should check with their employer as some companies give the day off to those who volunteer. There also is continuing education credit available in some fields for working the election.

Volunteers need to attend a three-hour training and be available the entire day of the election.

Trainings will be held in person at the Wayne County Fairgrounds Event Center on March 17, 18 or 21. The classes typically last about three hours. New workers must attend training before they can volunteer at the polls on election day. Poll workers do receive pay for both election day and for attending the training class.

On election day workers usually arrive at the polls between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and stay until after polls close at 7:30 p.m.

“We know it’s a long day,” O’Rourke said. “But we want to make sure that every eligible voter in Wayne County is able to have their vote counted.”

Unless a volunteer has offered to work anywhere in the county, workers will generally be assigned to a location no more than 15 minutes from their home. Partial shifts are not allowed due to election security.

O’Rourke explained that even though election day volunteers participate in setting up and tearing down the precinct locations, it is not necessary to be able to help with lifting. All Wayne County precinct locations are ADA compliant.

“Volunteering at the polls is a great experience,” O’Rourke said. “Almost all of our workers sign up to do it again. In fact, most of the members of our staff were once poll workers themselves.”

Director of Wayne County Board of Elections Julie Leathers Stahl was a poll worker for 22 years prior to working at the board.

For more information or to volunteer, call O’Rourke at 330-287-5421 or email mo’rourke@wayne.boe.ohio.gov.

The Wayne County Board of Elections website is www.waynecountyoh.gov/.

The board also may be found on Facebook and Twitter.

“Voting is essential to our democracy,” O’Rourke said, “and I think working to help make sure that process runs smoothly for everyone is one of the most fulfilling things someone can do.”

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