Poll workers prep for big election day

ST. CLAIRSVILLE This Election Day, officials will be on duty to make certain the voting process runs smoothly, but it is the poll workers at each voting station who make the event possible.

Director William Shubat said the board of elections has made use of student poll workers since 1995. A team of five poll workers typically includes a student as the fifth. They contact with government teachers who provide a list of junior and senior students interested in a poll worker’s job.

“So if someone is absent, the student could fill in,” said Shubat, adding that cross-training is also part of the process. “All of our poll workers are adept at each other’s jobs.”

He said that the experience also has the added benefit of interesting young people in politics. He noted that many of their poll workers continue to work with them on Election Day way through college and beyond.

“We’re pleased with that,” he said.

“Our poll workers can’t say enough about our young students,” he said, adding that the participation is welcome considering that the average poll worker is in the 75-year-old range.

He noted that each poll worker undergoes three hours of training. All the poll workers complete their training in a two week period. The tasks include reviewing paperwork and guidelines as well as acclimating themselves to the operation of paper ballots and devices.

“We have ADA-compliant touch screens and paper ballots,” he said, adding that the younger workers show an aptitude for electronic devices and quickly learn their use. “It’s amazing to see a young person working side-by-side with an older poll worker toward the common goal of fair elections.”

He added that they will see 350 poll workers. Each is paid $137 for the day.

“We are constantly looking for poll workers,” he said, adding that they require equal workers from both parties. Shubat added that they consistently have an energetic public response.

“Belmont County is unique in the fact that our poll workers have a higher turnout,” he said, adding that area citizens tended to be aware of political matters. “Voters are more in tune with government along the river.”

He said many of their poll workers have continued the job for years. He noted some remember a time when poll workers were paid only one dollar. However, being part of the election process was of more concern that money.

“They were honored by the trust,” Shubat said. “Most still work here to this day.”

This coming Election Day is expected to see heavy traffic, with a usual turnout of 50 percent, or 22,000 people. He noted that the November elections are always demanding occasions and the effort to recruit for that day is still ongoing. Information on how to be a poll worker will be available on the voting stations. Interested parties can also call (740) 526-0188. The last day to vote absentee was March 2.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com