Recruiting help for the polls on Election Day

New year, new elections, and the Iowa caucuses are – gasp – less than 24 hours away. Take down your Christmas tree and put away your party hats, because the holidays are over and it’s time to get down to presidential primary business. And we are busy.

Among many preparation activities, we’re in the throes of recruiting a cast of thousands to help ensure our polling places run smoothly on Feb. 5.

A poll worker helping a voter use the eSlate at a polling place on Election DayWe need 2,000 poll workers to man 448 precincts from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. We’ve got 1,633 assigned so far and we’re expecting at least 300 student poll workers to join them through our democracyLIVE! 2008 program.

“What we really need are more people to come up and say, ‘Yeah, I’m interested in doing this,'” said Greta McElroy-White, who is in charge of poll worker recruiting and training. “November and this election so far has been slimmer pickins than it usually is. With the new requirements older people are retiring we and need younger people, more flexibile people.”

Poll workers themselves are busy signing up for training – we’re holding about 65 classes this month for poll workers to bone up on procedures for the primary. We’re also offering a winter session of our one-of-a-kind Poll Worker Academy, which gives poll workers eight hours of intensive instruction devoted to the technical mastery of our eSlates. Six hundred poll workers graduated in August from our summer session.

Almost 850 poll workers have already signed up for training; if you’re a poll worker – or want to be one – and haven’t done so yet, signup today! (For November’s election we began offering training signups online to make life a little easier.)

But poll workers are not enough to keep the polls running smoothly anymore. The eSlates, our electronic voting machines, make the whole process more accessible – but also more complex. To that end, we’re also seeking a slew of people from the community whom we’ll pay to perform critical support functions. Make some extra money for yourself, or get your organization or group together and pool your earnings for an easy way to fundraise!

If you don’t have a lot of time to devote, no problem. We need 100 poll opening/closing technicians to work from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day to help poll workers with opening and closing procedures at the polls. An extra set of hands – and an extra mind – can be helpful during these critical hours.

If you’ve got all day and little bit of technical know-how, we’re aiming to find 75 field technicians to work from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. to provide direct assistance, troubleshoot and resolve equipment issues at polling places. Our field technicians have proved mighty useful.

For the Nov. 6 Consolidated Municipal, School and Special District Election we had 54 field technicians, and “we’re trying to get a little bit more than that this time around,” said Hillary O’Connor, who is in charge of recruiting them.

“That’s keeping up with what the Secretary of State wants,” O’Connor said. “That 75 would actually exceed her requirements for the ratio of troubleshooters to precincts.”

No in-depth experience with eSlates is necessary – we’ll train you. O’Connor said the diverse group includes firefighters and Costco employees. We’ve got 30 signed up so far. 

Or, if you’ve got all day but don’t feel like you have quite the technical aptitude, we also need 75 ride-along coordinators to work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to provide administrative support to the field technicians. You’ll take calls, log incident reports and make the day go much smoother. We’ve only got nine people signed up so far, so come join us!

We’re getting a little creative with our recruiting, targeting our community colleges, colleges and universities along the Peninsula. We’re also seeking recruits among the county’s own retirees.

Besides working on Election Day, attending paid training beforehand is required. We’ve got all the details – and a form for signing up – on our Web site.


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