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Published: Thursday, 11/3/2005

Elections board seeks 120 workers for Tuesday


A few days before voters go to the polls Tuesday, officials at the Lucas County Board of Elections are looking for about 124 people to work at local polling places.

Michael Badik, deputy director of the elections board, said yesterday that his office needs 60 Republicans and 64 Democrats to fill vacancies at polling stations in the county, but the numbers fluctuate constantly.

Poll workers must be registered and qualified to vote in the election they supervise, and must attend a training session and a pre-election meeting at their precinct polling place the night before the vote.

We always have shortages, but we fill them up by the day of the election, said Mr. Badik, noting that most of the vacancies at the moment are at suburban polling places.

The county has enough workers to have a Democrat and a Republican at each polling place, as required by law, but hopes to have two from each party.

The need was unexpected.

We were looking good, Elections Director Jill Kelly said last night.

Then came the phone calls: My daughter is having emergency surgery. My husband had a heart attack. I have the flu.

What can you do? You can t say no, Ms. Kelly said.

The board, under previous directors and previous members, has faced public criticism and the scrutiny of the Ohio Secretary of State.

Earlier troubles and the current quest are unrelated.

People get sick and have to go to the hospital, Ms. Kelly said. That s just part of being a human being and something no one has any control over.

Poll workers in Lucas County are paid between $85 and $90 for their work on Election Day, including $5 for training. Presiding judges, who are responsible for all voting and election activity in a particular precinct, are paid $100, and they are affiliated with the party that carried a particular precinct during the last gubernatorial election.

Most of the workers we need have already gone through training, but we just haven t heard from them, said Michelle Rudess-Dodd, a Democratic booth official working the phones yesterday in the elections board s offices on the third floor of Government Center.

Ms. Kelly and Dennis Lange, the Republican booth official, were both busy preparing to teach poll-worker training classes last night.

Mr. Badik said training classes will be held at the elections board s offices until Sunday.

Poll workers usually are recruited by Democratic Party and Republican Party officials, and usually are people who have been poll workers in the past, he said.

On election day, they must be at the polling place by 6 a.m. and remain there until all votes are tabulated typically about 8:30 p.m.

Each countywide election requires 1,980 poll workers to work at the county s 495 precincts, Mr. Badik said.

The federal Election Assistance Commission, formed in 2002, has expressed concern about the difficulty nationwide in finding sufficient poll workers every election day.

Ms. Kelly said once Tuesday s election is over, she plans to go into the community and work to get more poll workers early on, get more young people, college students get out there and explain to people it s not hard, and they ll be enriched by the experience.

People interested in becoming poll workers for Tuesday s election should call the Board of Elections at 419-213-2640 for Democrats and 419-213-2630 for Republicans.

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:krujumba@theblade.com or 419-724-6064.

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