Poll volunteers play important role in our elections

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Elections don't just happen. It takes an army of people to make sure that we can vote on our representatives, whether they be local, statewide or even the president.

Of course there is the candidates themselves, who receive most of the election attention, as well they should. Candidates have to make themselves known, and convince voters they're worthy. Then there are the voters themselves, who, as we've reported recently, don't always show up and make their voices heard. For example, in the last election, slightly less than 15 percent of registered voters voted in Cape Girardeau County. And Cape County boasted the highest turnout in our four-county area. Next comes the county clerks and their staffs, which make sure that the candidates register properly, meet all the conditions; ensure that the ballots are printed, that the machines run properly and generally ensure that everything is done fairly and according to law.

The group that gets perhaps the least attention are the election judges. These are the folks you see on Election Day who look at your ID, and hand you your ballot. They make sure that those eligible to vote may do so. They also make sure that the voting areas are free of campaigners. Poll workers are paid nominally for their work, (in Missouri, they're paid from $64 to $100 per day. Election judges are required to declare a political party, according to the Missouri Secretary of State's office. Each polling place must be staffed by at least two Republican and two Democratic election judges. Poll workers go through training from two to eight hours about four to six weeks prior to the election.

Many of the poll workers you see are retired folks who want to be engaged in the process. According to the Secretary of State, however, some poll workers take vacation days to train and work the elections. Employers are not required to allow for time off, but many of them do. All poll workers must be at least 18 years old to become an election judge.

We offer our thanks to all those who step up and help the county clerks man our elections every Election Day.

If you're interested to learn more about how you can help, go to s1.sos.mo.gov/pollworker/signup.

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