MARIETTA - When Washington County voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, they'll see some new faces working their precincts, thanks to a successful poll worker recruitment effort by the Washington County Board of Elections.
"We got quite a bit of response from our recruitment process," said Peggy Byers, deputy director and trainer for the board of elections.
A total of 80 new poll workers were hired, including 40 teenagers who are part of Youth at the Booth-an initiative by Kids Voting USA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civics education organization.
Photo by Sharon Bopp
Poll workers assemble a voting machine as they undergo training for the Nov. 6 election at the Washington County Courthouse Thursday.
Through Youth at the Booth, one of the four poll workers at each precinct can be a high school senior, Byers said.
"Research has found that they will probably be lifelong voters" through this experience, she said.
Poll worker training in Washington County began Thursday and will continue through Oct. 13.
As a senior at Marietta High School Corey Spanner, 17, of Marietta was eligible to be a poll worker. He said he jumped at the chance to participate in the upcoming election.
"I'm hoping to learn a lot about the process," Spanner said. "I watched the debate for the first time last night. Being in government class and this really helped me to be aware."
Sydney Crawford, 17, of Waterford, is a senior at Waterford High School. She and two other classmates were at Thursday's poll worker training.
"This will make me more interested in politics and pay attention when it's the first time I get to vote," said Crawford.
All training is being conducted at the Washington County Courthouse. Each session will take two to two-and-a-half hours to complete.
"We had a directive from the Ohio secretary of state that everybody was to be trained in person this time around," said Byers.
Those receiving training include 220 poll workers with positions and 150 extra Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated workers.
"That's so if people call off (on election day) there's plenty of people trained who could walk into those positions," said Byers.
Poll workers will learn how to position temporary doorknobs and ramps to make precinct locations handicapped accessible and where to place flags outside the building to mark the precinct's "no electioneering zone."
Those working the polls on election day must remind voters to cover up any clothing that promotes a candidate or cause.
"You can't wear a shirt that says 'Vote yes on the levy' and walk into the precinct," said Byers.
During training poll workers will learn the ins and outs of operating a precinct-which requires four workers.
Three of each precinct's poll workers are seated at a table where voters sign in to vote and receive their ballots.
The two workers at either end of the table have the "signature book" and "clerk's book." Using the signature book, one worker compares a voter's signature to the signature the county has on record. The second worker gets the voter's ballot ready.
In the middle of the table sits the third staffer who serves as the ballot person verifier.
"(He or she) is looking over the shoulders of both people, double checking that both have written down the ballot number correctly. ...We don't want to give the wrong person credit for voting," said Byers.
A fourth roaming worker reminds voters to have IDs ready, checks the voting booths and assists voters if they have trouble getting a ballot into the machine.
Poll workers will know how to do all four precinct jobs after completing training.
Poll workers will learn how to operate and trouble shoot the M100 voting counting machine and the automark machine that helps visual and hearing impaired voters.
There are about 43,000 registered voters in Washington County, Byers said. Of those voters, about 4,200 early voters had made their ballot choices by Oct. 4.
Byers said she expects an 80 percent voter turnout on election day Nov. 6.
"A presidential year is always very heavily voted," she noted.