Poll Workers Training For Tuesday

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Duane Peterson is a busy man. He’s one of the instructors training poll workers. 

“I have classes all day today. I have classes all day tomorrow. I have classes on Monday.” 

Peterson is taking a quick break. He’s conducting this three hour class with fellow-instructor Joe Thomas. 

“…all of you received a precinct manual….” 

After a brief introduction, Thomas leads the swearing in. 

“Raise your right hand and talk with me…I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States….” 

Nearly every one in this class is over 50, female…and as Duane Peterson observes…experienced.    

“Many of the people here for classes have been doing this for several years.” 

Alice Jarboe is the county’s Assistant Registrar. She says with interest in next Tuesday’s election so high, they’ve added 15 more precincts. And they’re adding more staff…five poll workers for each site rather than the usual four. 

“We train over 3,000 people to learn how to work the polls on Election Day. The laws change just a little bit every election so we have to retrain every election.” 

In fact, Peterson says, there are about a dozen new items in this year’s poll worker manual. 

“For example, we have a new provisional ballot envelope. We have a new ballot demonstration card. And those are the things that we go over.” 

Peterson shows a group of poll workers how to unlock the protective casing around the ballot scanning machines. He’ll continue training workers through next Monday. Peterson says he and the other poll workers go through these long training sessions, not because of the wages…which only amount to about $125-dollars...but because they feel strongly about the right-to-vote. 

“It’s not a big pay job. They do it because they’re civic minded.” 

Despite the hours of training and relatively low pay, Sacramento County officials say they have a waiting list of interested poll workers…much longer than they’ll ever need.