AP NEWS

Poll Workers Needed For Primary

May 6, 2019

Every year, Marisa Crispell finds herself looking for poll workers to man Luzerne County’s polling places for the primary and general election.

“With every election, we’re looking,” the director of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections said. “I’ve been here since 2012. We always need poll workers.”

She may be looking for temporary fill-ins, because someone is on vacation or scheduled a surgery, or possibly a spouse is running for office and they need to step back from that election, Crispell said.

Sometimes, people just age out or can’t handle the long hours, she said. Most of her poll workers are over 70 years old and workers must be at the polls at 6 a.m. to set up and stay behind after the polls close at 8 p.m., she said.

“It’s a very long day,” Crispell said, adding that the Election Code requires certain workers to remain at the polling place throughout the whole day and the code needs to be reformed.

“(The Election Code is) kind of stuck in the 1930s,” she said. “We’re more fast paced than the 1930s.”

Working the polls and going to vote used to be a more of a social event years ago and people would stop and chit-chat, ask about family and the time passed, Crispell said. Today, people want to get in to vote and get out, she said.

Fill-ins for clerks and machine operators can be appointed from outside the district, Crispell said. They’re given an absentee ballot to vote and work where needed, she said.

Judges of election and inspectors are elected positions and the county likes for the fill-ins to be from that district, she said.

“But sometimes, it’s just not possible,” Crispell said. “We need to keep the polls open.”

She has had a county employee fill in as a judge of election in Dallas, she said. Another time, Crispell lost an entire board on Election Day, because they were all family members and someone had a heart attack, she said.

“They were all at the hospital,” she said. “Every election, there is always something.”

Luzerne County pays judges $150 a day, inspectors and machine operators $125 a day and clerks $100 a day, Crispell said.

Pennsylvania is the only state that elects poll workers, Crispell said. She would like to see the Code changed in that regard and the county could hire and train poll workers for specific jobs, but she doubts she’ll ever see election reform, she said.

Crispell would prefer if interested people contact the election bureau, but she is not above making calls and knocking on doors. To find workers, she has reached out to the board, the municipality and even party chairmen, she said.

“If we can spark an interest, it’s always a plus,” she said.

These positions are open in the following municipalities: Dupont, clerk and machine operator; Duryea, inspector; Hazleton, various vacant positions throughout the 11 wards; Hughestown, clerk and judge (possibly); Larksville, judge and inspectors; Nescopeck Twp., judge; Pittston, various vacant positions; Wilkes-Barre Twp., machine operator and inspector.

People who are interested on being a poll worker in Luzerne can access the website: https://www.luzernecounty.org/1093/Election-Day-Poll-Workers. Training is being offered frequently throughout the next few weeks, Crispell said. Individuals can also submit poll worker interest forms at https://www.luzernecounty.org/FormCenter/Elections-13/Poll-Worker-Interest-Form-64, she said.

Contact the writer:

kmonitz@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3589