The importance of poll workers

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Poll workers, also known as officers of election, fulfill a key role in facilitating the electoral process, and Southampton County Registrar Lynn Burgess recently took some time to share some details about this important position.

She noted that to be qualified to be an officer of election in the county, an individual must be an interested citizen and a qualified voter of the commonwealth.

Burgess stated that a general overview of the officer of election’s responsibilities is as follows:

  • Attend mandatory training session;
  • Arrive at the assigned polling place on Election Day at 5 a.m.;
  • Do not leave the working precinct on Election Day unless directed to by a member of the electoral board;
  • Voting comes first — limit conversations with voters and friends; non-voters, including the worker’s family and friends, should not visit the polling place;
  • Strictly adhere to the required 6 a.m. opening and 7 p.m. closing times; and
  • Do not leave the polling location until the work is completed and the chief officer confirms that the worker is released from their assigned duties.

Burgess noted that poll workers must go through mandatory training that averages a minimum of four hours, and then they must work Election Day, during which an all-day shift averages 16 to 18 hours.

She said that Southampton County compensates its officers of election.

Currently the Southampton County Electoral Board is averaging five officers of election per precinct, she stated, adding that this number is satisfactory for the upcoming June 18 primary.

But that should not deter those who are interested in becoming an officer of election.

“Southampton County Electoral Board is always open to citizens who offer their services,” Burgess said. “The Electoral Board reviews and appoints qualified citizens on an as-needed basis.”

She reflected on the value of an officer of election.

“The Southampton County Electoral Board feels quite privileged to have such amazing citizens step up to serve our locality on Election Day,” she said. “It takes a team to implement fair, secure elections, and we have confidence in the moral integrity of our officers of election.”

Then Burgess encouraged voters to show their appreciation for poll workers.

“As voters who enter a polling location on Election Day, remember to thank your officers of election,” she said. “They are your friends, neighbors or maybe even a family member serving the community in which you live. They are there so that you can cast your vote; we could not do without these amazing people.”