Inside the Vote: Being a poll worker in Georgia
ATLANTA - Counties across Georgia are busy recruiting and training poll workers ahead of the November 3 election.
Tens of thousands of people have volunteered to serve their communities as poll workers.
Corey Haynes is one of those volunteers. He signed up for the first time for the August runoff and was one of nearly two dozen people to undergo a recent training session for Fulton County.
"I wanted to be part of the process as opposed to just casting a ballot," Haynes said.
Election officials say recruiting poll workers is always tough, but this year proved exceptionally difficult with the coronavirus pandemic.
Richard Barron, Fulton County Elections Director, says the problems reported at the polls during the June primary have inspired more people to get involved.
"I've been doing this for 20 years. I've never been through anything like that--where you're losing polling places and poll workers by the day, you can't get people to work early voting," Barron said. "One of the silver linings from June is that we have more than enough people that are willing to step in and work."
Barron says with the help of the Secretary of State's Office, political parties, and organizations like the ACLU, more than 6,500 people have applied to be poll workers in Fulton County this year.
The county will only need about 2,900 poll workers for the November election, though other counties are still actively recruiting.
You can sign up at securevotega.com or on your county's election website.
To be a poll worker in Georgia, you must:
- Be at least 16-years-old
- Be able to read, write, and speak English
Once selected, poll workers must complete detailed training to learn about election procedures, how to set up a polling place and common problems.
Training lasts anywhere from four to nine hours, possibly more depending on the position and level of responsibility.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says that training is critical so that poll workers know what to do if a voter has moved or if a voting machine won't boot up.
"The more that they're trained, they're just able to handle those kind situations. It's the same reason that they practice at football. That's why they have all those practices and scrimmages. They only play one day a week, but they practice those other five days," Raffensperger said.
On election day, poll workers must be willing to put in a lot of hours. Shifts begin at 6 a.m. and last until the last voter casts their ballot.
Barron says the number of people requesting absentee by mail ballots has changed the landscape for poll workers this year. They now have to know how to cancel an absentee ballot if someone comes to the precinct to vote in-person to ensure that no one votes more than once.
If you would like to be a poll worker, election officials encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.