Push is on for poll workers

LISBON — What if they held an election but there were not enough poll workers?

It hasn’t come that, but it could unless they get an infusion of new poll workers, according to Columbiana County Board of Elections Director Adam Booth.

“We’re in need of more poll workers than we’ve ever been,” Booth told his board at a recent meeting.

Under Ohio law, four poll workers –two Democrats and two Republicans — are assigned to each polling place. Approximately 348 trained poll workers are needed to staff the 87 polling places, “but we need some spares,” Booth said.

Poll workers often get sick or have a family emergency that requires them to call off at the last minutes, or simply have a prior commitment, which is why Booth would like to have about 50 to 60 extra poll workers to call on. He said they currently only have 20 to 30, most of whom are Republicans.

“Things happen, and it’s nice to have some on standby,” he said. “We need extras. We need people on call.”

Booth first raised the issue last year and intended to meet with service clubs and organizations in the hopes of recruiting poll workers from within those ranks. One service club signed up to work an election as a fundraiser for its organization.

Poll workers are paid $101 for a 14-hour day, while the presiding judge in each polling place receives $120, plus mileage for delivering the election results to the election board.

Most poll workers are retirees, and board member Vic Maroscher wondered if their older poll workers were scared off by the move to electronic poll books. But Booth said most of their older poll workers are tech savvy and have embraced the new technology.

Booth said he will continue to seek new poll workers and contact service organizations to determine if any are interested. Meanwhile, board member David Johnson, who serves as county Republican Party chairman, said the parties will step up efforts to find poll workers from within their ranks, although unaffiliated voters can also serve as poll workers.

Anyone interested in becoming a poll worker should call the elections board at 330-424-1448.