Recruiting county employees to serve as poll workers


(Posted Sept. 1, 2020)

Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Normally, the Madison County Board of Elections (BOE) needs 90 poll workers to cover its six polling locations, however, for the Nov. 3 presidential election, the board hopes to have 150 poll workers on hand.

Why the need for so many additional workers? BOE Director Abby Metheney says it has to do with safety measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to be able to sanitize between voters and make sure people maintain that six feet of social distance,” Metheney said.

Boards of elections typically struggle to find enough poll workers in a typical year. So, to find half again as many in the midst of a pandemic could be a challenge.

Enter “Day for Democracy,” a program that allows county employees to work the polls without taking a vacation day, sick day, or comp time. Participants receive their usual work pay for the day, and the BOE compensates them for any time they spend working the polls outside of their normal work hours. The BOE’s pay rate is based on its flat rate for regular poll workers.

Metheney pitched the “Day for Democracy” program to the county commissioners earlier this summer, shortly after she took the helm as BOE director. She had seen the program in action at the Delaware County Board of Elections, where she worked as an election support specialist before making the move to Madison County.

On Sept. 1, the county commissioners gave Metheney the go-ahead to implement “Day for Democracy” for the upcoming election. Metheney plans to reach out to the county’s 140-plus employees with details about the program.

“It’s an opportunity for a good group of people–government-related employees–where it doesn’t cost them financially to help the community and help the Board of Elections get a good election through. It’s good for democracy,” said Commissioner Mark Forrest.

Anyone interested in working the polls on Nov. 3, whether they are county employees are not, can call the Board of Elections for more information, (740) 852-9424.

Poll workers must be registered voters, Madison County residents, U.S. citizens, have no felony convictions, and be at least 18 years old (or 17 years old and a high school senior).

The flat pay rate for the day starts at $110. The day starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends when polls close that evening. Poll workers also are compensated for required training. Training sessions for the Nov. 3 election are available starting Sept. 14. Metheney said she will train anyone interested in participating, up until the day before the election.

Madison County’s six polling locations are Jonathan Alder High School, London High School, Madison-Plains Intermediate School, West Jefferson High School, Mount Sterling Community Center, and Choctaw Lake Lodge.


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