03/07/12 — County says poll workers needed for May primary

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County says poll workers needed for May primary

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 7, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County residents shouldn't be surprised if they receive a call from the county Board of Elections -- not about voting, but rather about helping other voters on Election Day.

The county will need a total of about 320 poll workers to operate its 30 polling places for the May 8 primary, as well as the three one-stop voting locations leading up to that date.

Poll workers must be registered voters and county residents. Elected officials and candidates for office cannot serve.

Between 20 and 30 poll workers are still needed, said Wayne County Board of Elections Director Vickie Reed. It is difficult to provide an exact figure because the numbers change on almost a daily basis, Ms. Reed said.

"We like to have 10 workers per precinct polling place," she said. "As such, we need 300, plus another 20 standby poll workers. That is a lot, and we are calling people to see if they would like to be a poll worker. We are making cold calls."

Standby workers would be used to fill in at polling locations should an assigned person be unable to work. The day starts at 6 a.m. for the poll workers who must remain at the site until all votes have been counted and documents signed.

Along with making the telephone calls, current poll workers are being asked if they know anyone who might be interested in working the polls.

"We also are contacting the party chairmen to see if they can help out (with names)," Ms. Reed said.

Ms. Reed said the Board of Election tries to split the number of poll workers equally between Democrats and Republicans.

"We can use unaffiliated (voters) to fill in," she said.

The county will need 15 people when one-stop voting opens April 19.

There will be three sites: Wayne County Public Library on East Ash Street, the Woodmen of the World Lodge on U.S. 117 north of Goldsboro and a new location at First Congregational Church at the intersection of Sleepy Creek Road and Old Mount Olive Highway at Dudley.

Each site has three judges, one chief and two others. Nominees for judges are recommended by the party chairmen and appointed by the Board of Elections.

The chief judge is the head official and is in charge of contacting the voting place custodian and other officials to make arrangements for each election. The chief judge also responsible for handling Election Day activities, picking up and returning supplies and is the primary contact between the Board of Elections and polling place managers and precinct election officials.

Judges are responsible for conducting the election in the absence of the chief judge. They must sign all official documents and serve on a panel to resolve any challenges. All other duties are assigned by the chief judge.

Assistants serve when needed and at the discretion and direction of the Board of Elections. Duties are assigned by the chief judge.

Ms. Reed said she hopes to have the workers in place by April 10, the week that training begins.

State law requires that the judges be trained prior to each election.

"We try to train everyone, even assistants, so that if a judge falls ill we can appoint an assistant," Ms. Reed said. "But they cannot serve as a judge unless they have been trained."

The workers can be assigned to any polling place in the county -- there is no guarantee that a person will sent to a specific location, she said. Workers should be able to work at any of the locations, she said.

Assistants are paid $95 per day, judges, $110 and chief judges $125.

Anyone interested in being a poll worker should call the Board of Elections office at 731-1411. Patrianne Carroll-Westbrook and Diana Parker are handling lining up the poll workers including making the cold calls.

Applications also are available at the Board of Elections website. Go to www.waynegov.com, click on departments and then Board of Elections. The application is located under forms on the left side of the page.

"It is a good year to get your feet wet," Ms. Reed said.