CLEVELAND — At the Board of Elections these days, there is a slow trickle of voters leading up to the August 3 special election who are met by a greater number of poll workers. It’s a ratio that left Kirsten Hagesfeld of Cleveland Heights feeling like she was getting the VIP treatment.
“We got very good service,” she said. “Ten different people helped us,” she said laughing, adding she expected this treatment in the future.
She was among the 1,400 people who have voted during the first two weeks of in-person early voting. By comparison, on the first day alone last October, they had more than 1,700. Dennis Boyd of Bedford Heights wasn’t surprised that he too found himself alone.
“Because it’s a special election and a lot of people are not aware. I’ve been talking to some of my relatives and telling them time to get out and vote,” Boyd said.
Boyd’s advocacy comes in part because he is a former poll worker — something he strongly encourages people to consider doing, especially in this race. Yet despite a record number of people who answered the call last November as a result of outreach efforts by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, their poll worker tracker shows Cuyahoga County to be not only short of their goal but short of the minimum needed.
BOE Director Anthony Perlatti says they’ll be okay for August 3 but “right after August we have a September 14 election and a November election, and now is the time also to sign up for those elections,” Perlatti said, adding the immediate challenge will be finding workers to help at the warehouse on election night.
“When voting at the polls is done, all of that material has to come back to our shop and we have to then go ahead and process that, and that takes over 100 extra temporary employees,” he said. “A lot of time we engage college and high school students to do this work but they’re still on summer break. So we need individuals to come and sign up to do that work, it pays $15 an hour, it’s about four-hour assignment from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. you’re guaranteed at least $60.”
Those interested can find more information on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website. Those looking to work at the polls can go to voteohio.gov as the state continues the outreach programs they used successfully last year.
“Everything from what I call second call to duty,” said Secretary of State Frank LaRose, “which is targeting my fellow military veterans to answer another call to duty by signing up to be a poll worker. Youth at the booth, high school workers who are 17 can be poll workers, that’s a great experience, a great opportunity to serve your community.”
LaRose says there is also a side benefit to being a poll worker — you see for yourself that our elections are fair.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s a lot of false information out there about elections. There’s this mythology that develops that spreads around on the internet and you hear people talk about secret algorithms in voting machines or voting machines connected to the internet or ballots printed in China. All of that is complete hogwash, completely disprovable as a matter of fact,” LaRose said.
“If you want to have the ground truth, the real experience and be able to understand how elections work, sign up to be a poll worker,” he said. “Really, it’s like getting a Masters degree in elections administration and by the way you’re doing an important patriotic duty, they’ll pay you for your work, we need Republicans, Democrats and Independents to sign up to be poll workers and voteohio.gov is the place to do it.”