BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The countdown to the midterm elections continues, and now that the candidate filing period for most positions in the county is closed, officials are getting ready to recruit poll workers who help make democracy possible.
“Typically, we have 145 to 155 polling sites, and the people who volunteer as poll workers are so important because without them, we could not run an election.”
It’s a critical position that is hard to fill at the moment.
Aimee Espinoza, the Assistant Auditor-Controller said usually 1,500 to 1,600 people in Kern County volunteer as poll workers and finding those people, is a challenge.
“Particularly some of the elderly population, who [believed] it was their civic duty and they had done it for years, some 20-30 years where they were volunteering for these elections.”
Another issue has been all the ground that Kern County covers, including getting people to travel to places like Mojave and Frazier Park.
That is why they are making some changes to the poll worker application which will be out mid-April which includes things like asking about election experience, language skills, if they have transportation, and availability.
Although the filing period for candidates closed on Friday, there is an extension until Wednesday for positions where no one has filed to run in. Those include Board of Supervisors District 3 and 4.
The president of the Bakersfield Republican Women Federation Annette Londquist, said following local races is important as local issues often set a precedent for political issues and decisions on the state and national level.
Aside from the governor being up for re-election, some important positions in the county will also be on the ballot like the County Sheriff, and the Board of Supervisors District 2 and 3, among others.
Meanwhile, as the push to get more people to help with the election continues, Cathee Romley, Volunteer with the Democratic Women of Kern said she has friends who are poll workers and have told her about the importance of their role.
“They [are] really feel happy to be able to lend a hand and lead the way into the citizen’s right and responsibility to vote. It is not only a right to vote. We have to remember that is our right, but the flip side of that is it is a responsibility to vote.”
Espinoza adds that’s why poll worker training is more important than ever.
“It is important to have people who are committed to maintaining that integrity, and in our office and our poll workers, we really strive to make sure that we know the rules and that they are trained on the rules, on what they can and cannot due.”
Poll workers must also attend a three-hour in-person training, plus the usual set up the night before, and be at the polling place around an hour before opening and a couple of hours after closing.
So you may be wondering "if I become a poll worker, what type of work am I expected to do?" 23ABC took an in-depth look.
There are various different types of positions to apply for as a poll worker. One is the role of clerk. They set up a poll site, set up accessible ballot marking devices, help voters find the correct table or site, and at the end of the night, pack up all the supplies. Clerks get paid $110.
Then there are inspectors who contact clerks at your table to make sure they are ready to work. They supervise and assign duties to clerks, and help fill any vacancies on election day. Inspectors get paid $120.
Then there are site supervisors. They are the managers of a polling site. They contact the site to coordinate the setup the day before the election. And they contact clerks to make sure they are ready to work and available for set up. Site supervisors get paid $150.
You can serve as a Poll Worker if you meet the following requirements:
- You are a United States citizen.
- You are at least 18 years old.
- You are a registered voter in Kern County.
- You are able to speak, read and write English.
- You are able to understand and perform the duties you are assigned.
You can apply to be a poll worker online.
Even students can be poll workers and earn $120.
A student poll worker must be a high school student and at least 16 years old. They have to have a minimum GPA of 2.5, be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and have permission from your parent/guardian and the high school administration.