More poll workers needed for June 3, Nov. 4 elections

Published 10:42 pm Saturday, May 3, 2014

America’s freedom depends on citizen participation in all aspects of the election process – as voters, as office seekers and as poll workers.

With the June 3 primary election and the Nov. 4 general election drawing ever nearer, Lincoln County is looking for 186 good, public-spirited men and women to staff the polls. While about half of that number will be made up by returning poll workers, the rest of the spots must be filled, said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield.

The hours are long – from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. – and the pay is not high – but the rewards of service to your fellow citizens, your county and our nation’s election process are great.

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Elections couldn’t be held without poll workers. They are the ones who check names in the poll book when citizens come to vote, and this year, they also will be checking voter ID’s for the first time. Poll workers also provide help to voters who request assistance. And when the polls close, some of the workers bring the ballot boxes and voting machine cards to the government complex so the election results can be tabulated.

While the Nov. 4 voting will be a general election conducted under the direction of the county election commissioners, the June 3 election is a party primary, so county Democratic and Republican party leaders will be responsible for overseeing the process. Both the election commissioners and party leaders welcome the involvement of dedicated, conscientious poll workers.

Bairfield said there are a few requirements for poll workers. They must:

• Be a resident and registered voter of Lincoln County

• Be able to work from 6:30 a.m. till 7:30 p.m. on the election days, since the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Be able to attend one of the training classes for poll workers prior to the June 3 election.

Poll workers are paid $90 a day, and poll managers receive an additional $20, making their salary for the day $110.

Based on a 13-hour day, that averages out to $6.92 an hour for poll workers, which is well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. A poll manager’s salary averages out to $8.46 an hour.

Poll managers perform additional duties, including picking up the ballot boxes and returning them on election night to the circuit courtroom in the government complex.

In addition to serving on election day, poll workers are required to attend one training session during the month of May (a list of training times is included in a story on page 1A of today’s Daily Leader). The training session is approximately three-to-four hours, and the time is paid at minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and added to the poll worker’s paycheck.

Certainly the salary is not the reason people become poll workers. “… I look at it as a public service,” Bairfield said. Poll workers are the “first line of integrity in the election,” he added.

While many longtime poll workers are retired persons, we also encourage recent students and graduates who have just joined the voter rolls to become poll workers. The experience gained in our election process will serve you well as you begin your career or go on to higher education.

And you will be part of the time-honored tradition that keeps our nation free and strong.