So you want to be a poll worker! Well I’m happy to say that you’ve come to the right place. This past Tuesday was election day and I spent almost 15 hours at the precinct helping people vote. I woke up at 5:00am, got to the precinct at 5:30am and didn’t leave until 8:00pm! There were some moments that were a bit dead, but overall it still didn’t feel as long as some 4 hour retail shifts I’ve worked in the past.
I wanted to write this post so more people are aware of 1) what being a poll worker entails 2) how to sign up to do so, and 3) what you should bring day of if you wish to be a poll worker! I’m going to answer all of these questions (and more!) in this post, so be sure to stay tuned.
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My Poll Working Experience
I wanted to start this post by sharing my poll working experience! This honestly ended up being a last minute decision for me. I had thought about it previously, but then realized I didn’t think I could ever work a 15 hour day. That said, it obviously didn’t end up being that terrible because I lived to tell the tale and ended up having an amazing day!
Two weeks ago I got an email saying there was an urgent need for poll workers in my county! I took this as a sign that I needed to do my part and help out at the polls. Everyone who wants to work has to take a poll worker training class! Because of COVID, we had ours online using Zoom. They say it’ll be two hours long, but at the most it was an hour long and the rest was left for questions!
There are also a few different poll worker jobs, but the one I was given was that of a poll clerk! Usually poll clerks just help keep the line straight, direct traffic, and hand out stickers at the end. That said, I ended up also helping voters submit ballots! My main poll worker duties included: receiving/counting green voting cards, helping voters submit ballots, handing out stickers, and directing voters to the exit!
What to Bring for Poll Working
One of my followers actually suggested this post idea to me because of this section here! She was working at a precinct and wanted to know what she should bring to work election day. At that point, I had no idea! I tried to be over prepared, so I’m going to list what I brought/the things that will help you have success while working the polls.
- FOOD – You will hypothetically have three meals at the precinct (I ate bread in the car at 5:15am on my way to work lol). I brought a mini cooler of food, but we got lucky and had a small kitchen at our precinct because it was at a church!
- Extra Clothes – I brought a skirt because I’d been told you can’t wear jeans (but my friend heard something differently). I also brought a backup shirt because I didn’t know if a voting tee would be a problem! A rule of thumb is that voting clothing is fine as long as it’s not specific to a candidate on that ballot.
- A Book – I also suggest maybe bringing a book in case your precinct is slow! Ours had points in time where we had no voters for 30 min to an hour. We obviously just all chatted, but having a book would’ve been nice!
- Caffeine – I definitely had coffee twice and a cherry-vanilla Coke during the day. You will have spells of exhaustion where you’ll need a kick of energy! Someone also brought candy and I had way too much.
- Extra Shoes – I brought extra shoes in case my feet starting hurting during the day. Lucky my sneakers were fine and I was able to sit for a good amount of time too!
Popular Questions You Might Have
How long is poll worker training?
Poll worker training is about 2 hours long! Most people are allowed to leave after an hour and the rest are allowed to stay to ask any questions they have.
What is the poll worker dress code?
It’s business casual! Anything you wouldn’t wear to your office I would avoid. I wore a voting tee, denim cropped flare jeans, a beige cardigan, and white sneakers! I was a bit more on the casual side, but that was fine. Avoid ripped clothing and anything supporting candidates on the ballot.
Do poll workers get paid?
Yes! It’s not much, but poll worker pay for clerks was $125.00 total for training, set-up, and working on election day! It’s not a lot, but honestly I would’ve done it for free.
Are you on your feet the whole time?
At some precinct maybe, but you are allowed to bring a chair if you want! I got lucky and was stationed at a church so we had plenty of chairs.
Do you get to eat?
DUH! They can’t starve you! You can take breaks as often as you want (that includes the bathroom too). We just made sure we had relief (someone to cover us) before we took any type of break.
Can you have drinks?
Yep! You’re allowed to keep water with you as you’re working. I also brought out my Coke while I was drinking it and that was fine too.
What is the phone policy?
Poll workers aren’t supposed to use their phones in the election room and neither are voters! We were allowed to use them on breaks/in the bathroom/outside if we had to take a call.
What are the scope of my duties?
Your main duties are: poll training (1-2 hours), setting up the precinct the day before (2-3 hours), working election day (14ish hours), and breakdown (1-2 hours).
Okay this was probably all the poll worker information you could ever want and need! I am so happy I wrote this post because it was so great helping people vote. I have another post you can read about Why Voting is Important (here)! I hope you decide to help out at a precinct in your city! I also wanted to shout out Gwen, Jackie, and Khris for being so welcoming and kind (if you guys ever find this post).
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Photos by Hannah Lozano