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Some counties short hundreds of poll workers before Election Day

Clerks short hundreds of poll workers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Officials in Indiana’s most populous county on Wednesday said they could staff all poll sites on Election Day with the numbers they have but they’d be spread very thin.

Brent Stinson, the deputy director of the Marion County Election Board, said, as of Wednesday afternoon, Marion County still needs 659 poll workers to fully staff its voting centers on Election Day, especially Republicans. He said he has enough people signed up to meet the minimum staffing requirements for each polling location, but the current number is far from ideal, especially since officials prefer to have one registered Republican and one registered Democrat assigned to each step in the process.

“We want to make sure that anyone who wants to work can participate in their democracy, help the voters from their neighborhood or across town be able to cast their votes efficiently, quickly,” he said.

County party affiliates had until Tuesday to recruit their own poll workers and provide them to election officials. Those officials now are soliciting volunteers directly to make up whatever shortage the parties had. The need for poll workers varies by county.

Beth Sheller, election administrator for Hamilton County, said she still needs about 100 poll workers.

Monroe County officials said they still need 23 Republicans and “a handful” of Democrats to sign up.

Election officials in Hancock, Hendricks, Shelby and Johnson counties said they have all the poll workers they need, while officials in Madison and Howard counties said they only need a few more people to volunteer.

Sheller and Stinson both said any registered voter can sign up to be a poll worker. Training is provided ahead of Election Day, and poll workers receive a stipend. Stinson said people need to be able to work the entire day beginning at 5 a.m., so poll workers always are assigned to voting sites that are as close as possible to where they live. Sheller said prospective poll workers will have to indicate alignment with either the Democratic or Republican parties so that election judges can form bipartisan teams.

“The whole idea of having the poll workers at a polling location is to make your elections fair,” she said. “So we need Republicans and Democrats both there. Otherwise, there’s no checks and balances.”

Anyone interested in serving as a poll worker should call their county clerk’s office. Election officials in both Marion County and Hamilton County have online poll worker signup forms.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.