Washington?County seeks poll workers

MARIETTA – Wanted: Poll workers for the Nov. 5 general election.

“We’d like to have about 10 more Democrat and 10 more Republican poll workers,” said Peggy Byers, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections.

Although all 220 poll worker positions are currently filled, she said the board likes to have some backup workers.

“We always look to have some dropouts before Election Day, so we like to train some additional workers,” Byers said.

She and board of elections director Tara Hupp have scheduled an extra poll worker training session at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in the training room of the board of elections’ new office location at 204 Davis Ave., Suite B, Marietta.

“We’d especially like to see some more workers from the Dunham Township area where we always seem to be light on poll workers,” Byers said.

Poll workers are paid $101.50 for Election Day and an additional $10 for hands-on training. They can also earn an additional $10 by taking some training online.

Byers said presiding judges at the polls are paid $111.50 for Election Day and $30 for training, plus mileage to the polls from their homes.

“You have to be a registered voter to qualify for a poll worker position, and workers can be members of the Democrat,

Republican, Independent, Green, Socialist, Libertarian, or other parties,” she said. “But right now we need more Democrats and Republicans. The basic rule is you can’t have more than two from any party manning the polls.”

One reason the election board office is expecting some current poll workers to drop out is related to the new electronic poll books that, for the first time this election, are replacing the old system that required a lot of paperwork at the polls.

Byers said some of the older poll workers do not feel comfortable with the new computerized system and have opted not to train on the devices.

But learning the new system isn’t that bad, according to poll workers Patsy Hupp, 72, and Sandra Grady, 66, who were practicing on the electronic poll books at the board office Monday afternoon.

“I’m used to working with computers as I volunteer to help prepare tax forms every year,” Hupp (no relation to Tara Hupp) said. “But some people don’t like to use the technology.”

Grady, who has never owned a computer, said learning the new system is not so bad.

“This seems to be a lot easier than using the paper poll books we’ve had in the past,” she said.

Byers said Nov. 5 will be the first time the electronic books have been used in Washington County, and there will be extra units or paper poll books available at each polling place in case any problems should arise with the system on election day.

A couple advantages of the electronic units include a complete database that contains the names and districts of all voters throughout the county, and the ability to print off directions to their correct polling place for voters who show up at the wrong location on election day.

“All forms of identification can be used with the system,” Hupp said. “But presenting a valid current Ohio drivers license is the most expeditious way to confirm ID at the polls.”

She said the magnetic strip on the back of all new drivers licenses can be quickly run through an electronic reader to determine a voter’s identification and other information required to cast a ballot.

Hupp said the county purchased 60 electronic polling book units at a cost of $126,000. She said about 15 of Ohio’s 88 counties have similar units, and the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office is encouraging all counties to begin using the new system.