UPDATE: As of Sunday evening, workers were still needed in Greene County. Get more information on how you can be a poll worker Tuesday »
The number of poll workers needed to work next week’s election in Greene County is down by nearly a third, election officials said Tuesday.
“We are short nearly 200 poll workers,” said Llyn McCoy, director, Greene County Board of Elections “It is split in half between the Democratic and Republican parties.”
The county usually employs 588 poll workers for its 146 precincts, said McCoy.
The sheer number of workers needed to staff elections is part of the recruiting problem, according to state officials.
“It’s a heavy lift. We need to recruit more than 35,000 people statewide for this election,” said Joshua Eck, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Each of the 8,905 voting precincts statewide need four poll workers - officially known as “precinct election officials” - and two each must be members of the Republican and Democratic parties.
Eck said the individual county boards are in charge of securing and setting pay for poll workers so he is unaware of how many counties might be having trouble filling the jobs.
Miami County and Warren County have shortages, but they are not as severe as Greene County.
Greene County relies heavily on retirees to serve as poll workers. The jobs pay about $100 a day, McCoy said.
“Folks aren’t retiring as early as they used to,” MCcoy said, ” Many of them are working into their 70’s and beyond.”
Montgomery County has secured more than enough poll workers for the Nov. 3 election, said Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Even if multiple precincts share a polling location there must be four poll workers for the precinct, Kelly said. The county has 360 precincts with 178 polling locations. She has 1,600 poll workers lined up.
One poll worker serves as the presiding judge at each precinct and the county also sends out 200 polling location supervisors and roving troubleshooters, she said.
In past elections some area boards of elections had difficulty keeping older veteran poll workers as computer technology became a greater part of the voting process through touch-screen voting machines and electronic poll books.
But Kelly said that doesn’t seem to be a problem now.
“I think the older people are willing to learn the technology and have really stepped up to the plate,” she said.
The Miami County Board of Elections in Troy still needs five people to serve as poll workers and a couple more to step up as presiding judges, said Janelle Flaharty of the elections office staff.
“We have a lot of people who have done it (work the polls) for years and years and keep coming back. We also have several new people this year,” Flaharty said.
Warren County is short Democratic poll workers, said Brian Sleeth, director of the Warren County Board of Elections.
“Things usually work out at the last minute though, but that always makes us nervous,” said Sleeth. “Our goal is usually to have all positions filled three weeks before the election.”
Eck and Kelly said there has been a big push to get younger poll workers.
Husted travels to high schools to talk about the importance of voting and to encourage eligible students to sign up to be poll workers.
“Working at the polls is an opportunity to serve on the frontlines of democracy and to play a direct part in the goal of making it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio,” Husted said in a statement released by Eck.
Kelly said Montgomery County’s “Youth at the Booth” program has 300 participants, high school students who are at least 17 years old who work at the polls.
Like the adults the students are paid $105 per day plus $25 for the day of training.
She said everyone works all day and no split shifts are allowed because that would be a logistical nightmare to manage if some people only worked partial shifts.
County government employees are freed for the day to assist at polls and Kelly said she would like to start a program that would encourage companies to give their employees the day off to be poll workers.
By the numbers - Poll workers Statewide
4 poll workers needed per precinct
2 Democrats and 2 Republicans
35,620 needed for each election