Santa Ana With Board action on Tuesday to allow County employees to volunteer during work hours at polling places on Election Day, Registrar of Voters Rosalyn Lever is launching an outreach effort to broaden the pool of available volunteers.
“County employees will be a great asset,” said Rosalyn Lever, County Registrar of Voters. “But even with these new resources, the student poll worker program and our dedicated group of returning poll workers, the need to recruit new poll workers is great.”
Twice a year, in even-numbered years, Orange County conducts major countywide elections. This involves establishing about 1,700 polling places and staffing them with 7,000 volunteers. These volunteers give of their time (from 12 to 14 hours on Election Day) to ensure that all eligible County citizens are able to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“Our election process depends on these dedicated individuals,” said Lever. “Yet, even with a well-intentioned team of volunteers, we experience an average of 1,000 poll worker cancellations within 30 days of an election, and 300 of these come less than 24 hours before the election.”
When this happens, polling places don’t operate the way they should. A full staff of volunteers is needed so that polling places will open on time with courteous poll workers trained to assist voters and answer their questions. Filling last-minute vacancies is difficult, however. And the problem is compounded when cancellations come for much-needed bilingual poll positions.
Lever said that the aging of the polling place work force also contributes to the shortage. “A sizable number of our polling place workers are seniors who are finding it more and more difficult to work the polls,” she said. “Consequently, it becomes increasingly difficult to find civic-minded, elections-trained individuals to serve in our polling place work force.”
Typically, polling places are staffed by four poll workers. Poll workers participate in a two-hour training session, for which they receive a $20 stipend. Those workers in charge of polling places are paid $70 for serving on Election Day. All other poll workers are paid $50.
Poll workers must be United States citizens, 18 years of age or older on or before Election Day and able to read and speak English. They also must be able to work from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 pm. on Election Day.
“One of our goals is to broaden the pool of volunteers to include diversity in age, ethnicity and bilingual skills,” said Lever. In addition to the basic criteria, she added, “we are looking for people who are dedicated, efficient, patient and friendly.”
This year’s poll worker recruitment theme is “P.S. … Work the Polls.”
“When people make their to-do lists for Election Day, we hope they will remember to add that postscript -- work the polls,” said Lever. “It’s an option that is both patriotic and enjoyable. And that P.S. also stands for patriotic service, personal satisfaction and pride in service.”
For information on volunteering as a poll worker, call the Registrar of Voters at 714 . 567 . 7580
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