Sedgwick Co. in dire need of election workers, shortage could impact voting lines

Voting (KSN Photo)

SEDGWICK, Co. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Election Office is begging people to sign up to be poll workers for the 2016 General Election.

“I am begging people two things. First of all consider it. We know we don’t pay you much, but it is a great civic opportunity. It’s a great way to serve the community, get involved and have a lasting impact on what goes on. The second thing is if you commit to do it, please make it a priority,” said Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman.

Right now, more than 283,465 people are registered to vote in Sedgwick County. In 2012, 269,062 people were registered to vote. In 2008, there were 245,983 registered voters.

“We tend to see in the even-numbered years our registration numbers will continue to tick up. I am hopeful we will cross over 300,000 registered voters for November,” Lehman said.

With record voter turnout expected, more poll workers are needed more than ever, according to Lehman.

“It could affect lines at the polls, if we are not properly staffed,” Lehman said.

That’s why the county is putting out all of the stops to fill its 1,000 poll worker positions. Officials have been calling people, putting out advertisements on social media and even setting up booths at community events. However, Lehman said there doesn’t seem to be much interest.

“Right now, what’s happening is our cancellations are coming in faster than our applications,” she said.

Lehman said last week the county only needed about 200 more poll workers to be fully staffed. On Tuesday, she told KSN the county now needs 250 poll workers to be fully staffed.

“If you are going to commit to us let’s do it because we are spending your tax dollars assigning you, sending you out paper work, getting you trained and then when you cancel that’s again your tax money wasted and then we are turning around scrambling last-minute trying to find somebody else,” she said.

Lehman also said often times people who sign up as poll workers don’t show up for their shift on election day. She said no matter how few election workers the county has for the General Election, all of the polling sites will have to remain open.

“We will start triaging, we will look at the places that have more openings and start moving places from where we are full, start moving people to other places so it’s more evenly distributed,” Lehman said.

If you want to work as a poll worker, click here.

Election worker requirements:

• Must be a registered voter in Sedgwick County or a 16 or 17 year-old who is otherwise eligible to register to vote, except for not yet being of legal age.

• Must be available to work on Election Day from 4:45 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. or until all of the closing procedures have been completed.

• Must be available to attend a mandatory training class.

Election worker pay:

• Election clerks and provisional ballot judges are paid $120 for Election Day and $22.50 for training.

• Election supervising judges are paid $150 for Election Day and $22.50 for training.