More poll workers are needed for 08 election

For the big election in November, the Madison County Board of Elections needs more than 100 more poll workers to sign up. Training is set for mid-September.

Madison County has only 16 polling places, but has 44 precincts. The number of workers is based on precincts. Each precinct has three judges plus one presiding judge who is responsible for getting the voting material gathered the day before Election Day. To cover these requirements, the Board of Elections needs a total of 176 judges plus nearly 20 other workers to help out, said Deputy Director Matthew Tlachac.

The board sent letters to 240 previous poll workers. So far, 80 have committed to working the polls again.

Tlachac is not sure why more people have not agreed to work. “Maybe people are reluctant to work one of the biggest elections in recent years,” he said.

The job requires that poll workers work from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., one hour before and one hour after the polls are open, on Election Day. The pay is about $100. 

Their duties include checking in voters by finding their names on the list of registered voters, checking their driver’s license or other form of identification, and verifying their signature against the one on file.

After check-in, workers give voters any instruction or assistance they need. The most important thing at the end of the day is that the number of signatures and number of ballots used balance, Tlachac said.

Workers must follow election laws, protect the rights of voters and make sure everything is done fairly and properly. There may be a few changes this year that will be covered in the training, he said. Workers are paid $10 to attend training.

Whitney Tipple, 19, became a poll worker last year and said if was not difficult. “After you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.”

She learned about poll workers in Jenny Siddiqi’s government class at West Jefferson High School. About six students from the class signed up, she said.

“I was just trying to help out my community,” Tipple said. She hopes to motivate other young people to get involved and to vote. 

One of the difficulties in getting poll workers is keeping a bi-partisan balance.

“We must have two Democrats and two Republicans in each precinct at all times,” Tlachac said, “and Madison County has more voters registered as Republicans.”

Long-time precinct judge Vicky Victor faced that situation in Precinct 4A. She has worked as a registered Republican since taking her mother’s spot on the board in 1987. Last year, 4A had more than the two Republicans needed as judges, so Victor worked as one of the “problem solvers.”

“It’s all about helping the voters,” she said. “I’m happy with that. I don’t care if they are Republican or Democrat, just as long as they vote.” She plans to work again this year in whatever capacity is needed.

For more information about becoming a poll worker, call 740-852-9424 or pick up a “Be a Poll Worker!” brochure at the local library. The brochure is produced by the Voting Rights Institute, under the Ohio Secretary of State. It has general informa-tion, a listing of all county election boards in Ohio, and a poll worker sign-up form. 

The county has a Web site at www.co.madison.oh.us. On the lefthand side of the home page, visitors can click on “Board of Elections” to access a list of subheadings including “Poll Workers.”

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