Elections officials contend with poll worker call-offs
LISBON – Voters throughout Columbiana County head to the polls today, and Adam Booth hopes there are enough poll workers to greet them when they get there.
Booth, the county election board director, reported at Monday’s meeting there have been an unusually high number of poll workers who have reported off for this election, including 15 to 20 yesterday.
“We’ve had a lot of call-offs today and we’re about to run out of our reserves,” he said.
Deputy Director Kim Meek said they had to call some former poll workers and ask them to fill in.
Under Ohio law, four poll workers – two Democrats and two Republicans – are assigned to each polling place, or precinct. Approximately 356 trained poll workers are needed to staff the 89 precincts.
Booth said they have a pool of about 400 poll workers to choose from, and there are always a certain number who report off, some well in advance because of other commitments. But Monday’s number of call-offs was significantly higher than normal.
“People go on vacation, they get sick or sometimes they just want to work,” he said. “We just need a bigger pool.”
For that reason, Booth said they intend to begin meeting with service clubs and organizations in the hopes of recruiting poll workers from their ranks.
Poll workers are paid $101 for a 14-hour day, while the presiding judge in each precinct receives $120, plus mileage for driving the results to the election board.
“It’s nice to have that (compensation) but it’s really a public service. This is really an important job,” said elections board member David Johnson.
As for today’s election, Booth said they should be in good shape because voter turnout is expected to be low, provided they do not have another 15 to 20 poll workers report off.
“We’re stretched a bit thin, but as of right now we’re covered,” he said.
Most poll workers are retired or not working, and anyone interested in becoming one should contact the elections board at 330-424-1448. But wait until after the election.