Elections need workers, too

Stephanie Riedel, Staff Writer

Civic duty is an important aspect of a democratic society. For many of us that duty starts and ends with voting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t. We should, by all means, be doing more for ourselves and our community by getting involved in the election process and serving as election poll workers.

Many of us feel disenchanted with the election process, but by working at the polls, you help to make it an open and fair process. Plus, you get paid.

I’ve been working at the election polls for the past few elections and have had a lot of fun. I work the 6 a.m. shift at City Church on Buckeye Road and while that is very early, there’s always lots of free hot coffee to drink and we even do a themed potluck.

The thing that has bothered me, though, is the lack of young faces working alongside me. Everyone I work with is retired and while that demographic needs to be represented at the polls, so does yours.

Here’s how you can be a poll worker. You apply at cityofmadison.com/election, and answer a few questions, such as, where would you want to work, what shifts (6 a.m.-1:30 p.m., or 1 p.m.-close.) and what kind of training would you find valuable.

There is training involved that can be done in person, or online. I recommend in person, because they can readily answer any questions you may have, but as students that can be hard. Luckily, though, they provide many classes over many days with various hours.

Did I mention you get paid? You’ll make about $10/hour and that includes an hour of training. I usually get about $100 working the 6am shift, but the closing shift is longer and you can work all day. There are a total of six elections this year, so if you work every one of them, you can expect to bring in an extra $600 at least.

That’s no small thing. That could be a plane ticket home, or a really sweet tattoo (aka my plan) or a road trip somewhere, or a significant chunk of your tuition next semester.

Above all, you get to be involved in one of the most important processes of our democracy and represent your demographic in doing so.

For me, that’s the best thing about working the elections and I’m really proud to do it. I encourage you join me.

I think you’ll enjoy it too.