Remember the last time you voted at your neighborhood polling place? Remember the old folks that checked you in?
Well, they know something you might not know…
Volunteering as an Election Day Worker (also known as Election Judge) earns you from $100 to $300 per Election.
“Everybody can use an extra hundred or two, so when do I start?” you ask.
How about 2016?
Starting with the Primaries earlier in the year, and ending with Presidential Election in November 2016 is a Big Election Year.
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A big election means local County Elections Offices will be hiring thousands of Poll Workers. With only a few requirements to qualify, you can be the one earning up to $300 for helping people vote.
What will I learn?
Election Day Worker qualifications may vary per state, but here are a few that are required for all workers:
- You must be a citizen of the United States.*
- You must be a registered voter in the county where you plan to work.
- You must not be a candidate for that district.
- You may not be working for or related to a candidate who is on the ballot.
- You must be able to speak, read, and write English.
- You must have reliable transportation to and from your assigned polling place.
*States of California, New York, and some others, allow Permanent Lawful Residents to serve as Election Workers.
I’m a High School Student. Can I help?
Yes, you can!
California and Texas are just two states that have Student Poll Worker Programs.
Students with the following qualifications may work for the same stipend as adult workers or choose community service hours for their schools:
- You must be at least 16 years of age on Election Day.
- You must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
- You must have the permission of your school Principal.
- You must have parental approval.
- You must have someone reliable to transport you to your assigned polling place.
Do They Hire Bilinguals?
Yes, of course.
Many citizens are still more comfortable speaking their first language, so Interpreters are very much needed.
Bilingual Poll Workers are expected to be fluent in English as well as the language they’re volunteering to interpret.
California always needs workers who can read, write and speak Spanish.
In Texas, there is a need for workers who speak Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese, in addition to English.
In New York City, interpreters are needed who speak Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Bengali, and Hindi.
Sounds Good, is There a Down Side?
Being an Election Day Worker is not for everyone. In most instances, you will be expected to work as many as 16 hours on Election Day.
Poll Workers must get to their assigned polling place early to set up. This usually means around 6 a.m.
With a couple of breaks, you will work until voting closes, then be expected to stay until everything is packed up and accounted for. There are some counties that allow people to work 4 to 6 hour shifts, but the pay is less.
The Election Worker in charge, usually called the Inspector, has the added responsibility of transporting ballots to a designated drop off point.
Each worker is also expected to spend two to three or more hours of time in Training for the big day.
What Does Training Entail?
In Training, you will learn the best ways to help people vote. You will learn about the laws regarding the polling place. You will learn how to work voting machines.
And you will learn how to handle whatever problems might come up.
How Much Do Poll Workers Make?
Volunteer stipends vary from state to state and county to county.
In California, Inspectors are paid up to $195, with poll workers being paid as much as $135.
Wisconsin has similar pay. In Wisconsin, Chief Inspectors are paid $185 for working and attending training. Election workers are paid $145.
New York City pays Interpreters and Door Clerks $225 and Inspectors, Poll Clerks, and Information Clerks $300 for working and attending and passing training classes.
How to Find Election Day Jobs Where You Live?
Most Poll Worker Recruitment is the responsibility of the Registrar of Voters and County Elections Offices, but large cities, such as New York and Chicago, have their own Board of Elections.
At least two states, Oregon and Washington, have mail-in voting only.
The best advice would be to check with your local county Elections Board and go from there.
Websites for the Elections offices have information for volunteers, including qualification and training requirements and pay schedules. Most sites have downloadable applications.
Here are a few links to Elections Offices around the country:
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission: The is the United States Elections Assistance Commission’s website. The site has a map with links to all state Elections Offices. Click on your state and you’ll be taken to your state’s Elections Office website where you can find out everything about the election process–registering, voting, location, hours, as well as becoming a poll worker, the compensation for it, requirements, etc.
- NYC Board of Elections
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
- Department of Elections City and County of San Francisco
- The City of Milwaukee Election Commission
- Georgia Secretary of State Elections Division
- Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago
- Ohio Secretary of State Elections Division
- Missouri Secretary of State Poll Worker Sign-Up
These are just a few examples. Again you can go to the United States Elections Assistance Commission’s website for your state’s website.
How Many Times Can I Volunteer?
As many times as you want.
Elections are held at least once every year in most counties.
In a two-election year like 2016, working both elections will put $200 to $600 in your wallet. Who doesn’t need an extra two hundred bucks for Christmas?
A lot of volunteers come back year after year. Working as a Recruiter, I met many poll workers who had as many as 20 elections under their belts and novices who were happy for the opportunity to serve.
What’s the Best Time to Apply to Become an Election Day Worker?
Recruiters will start making calls as early as February for the Presidential Primaries in some counties.
So, if you’d like to help out your fellow voters while earning a little money, do the Patriotic thing and call your local Elections Office as soon as possible.
K. L. Barrett spent many years as a substitute teacher, restaurant owner and published romance novelist. She spent three months working as an Election Officer Recruiter in California, where she met a lot of really wonderful patriotic volunteers.