With Election Day upon us, concerns abound about the safety of elections, and one of so many reasons the 2022 elections are expected to be safe is the role of poll workers.
According to a Marist Poll, 24% of New York voters see preserving democracy as a top issue.
It takes a decent amount of training to ensure poll workers are prepared for the big day.
Tamara Scott, Republican election commissioner for Tompkins County, said the process is smoother because returning poll workers help newer ones.
“We’re fortunate where we have a lot of our poll workers, who work most elections,” Scott explained. “They’ve all been through this, multiple times, multiple elections. So, they’re well versed in all sorts of issues that come up, so that puts any new folks that we have coming in; they have somebody they can count on for a question that, because they’re new, they don’t know how to handle the situation.”
There are separate training sessions for poll workers and election inspectors. Scott noted this year, a series of videos have been developed for poll workers to remind them of any information they might have forgotten. Anyone interested in becoming a poll worker, in any part of New York State, can visit their local election board’s website.
Scott noted most poll workers are stationed at polling places in the town they live in. She added as serious as Election Day is, things become a bit neighborly during the day.
“Even when you’re working Election Day, it’s a very, very long day,” Scott acknowledged. “But, you get to see your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers coming in and out during the day. So, you can have a little fun. You can have a little, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen you since last time’, or ‘How are things going?’ You can have a nice conversation with friends and neighbors, and that’s a nice thing.”
She identified the biggest challenge in being a poll worker as the long hours. But Scott stressed some people return as poll workers year after year, regardless.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.