By Harley Nefe
The Watauga County Board of Elections is currently accepting applications from individuals of all age groups who are interested in being paid to be an election official during the Early Voting period or on Election Day.
When someone goes to vote, the person helping is an election official and are front-line representatives of the Board of Election office.
“These individuals are active voters, serving their community and local government with pride,” the Watauga County Board of Elections stated in a flyer. “It is a long day and a lot of work; but without our volunteers, we could not make democracy work.”
In addition, the flyer listed benefits of being an election official, including to make extra money, make a difference, strengthen the community, learn new skills and meet new people.
Watauga County Board of Elections Director Matt Snyder said there are a variety of different positions and skills that are needed, such as people with good computer skills.
Training will be provided, and everyone will go through the process. In addition, all positions are paid, and the hourly rate depends on the position.
Snyder said the pay rate for working during the Early Voting period will be around $10.50-12 an hour, whereas on Election Day, it will be around $9-12 an hour.
Snyder also said that during the Early Voting period, they’ll be working half-day shifts, so approximately six hour shifts. They will also be working on Saturdays this year, unlike years past, so there’s some availability for individuals who may only be able to work on weekends.
Applicants also do not need to commit to the entire Early Voting period; however, Snyder said, they are asking people to set aside at least three days, so it’s worthwhile to train everyone.
This year, One Stop Early Voting begins Oct. 15 and ends Oct. 31.
Due to there being 15 days of Early Voting, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to get involved.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Precinct polls will be open 6:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m.
For Election Day, Snyder said, they try to keep people in their own precinct to work, but sometimes they’ll ask individuals to travel a short distance to help out another precinct.
Election officials will also be equipped with personal protective gear, such as gloves, face masks and face shields, as Snyder said, the Watauga County Board of Elections is doing everything to comply with the COVID-19 guidelines.
“We take the responsibility seriously keeping all of the folks safe and preparing them to work in this environment, so we’re going through great lengths to make sure not only poll workers are going to be safe, but the voters too,” Snyder said.
The Watauga County Board of Elections office is currently accepting applications now. Snyder said, they would prefer to have applications from people who want to work during Early Voting to have their applications in by Sept. 11. Training is scheduled for Sept. 23-24 for people working the Early Voting period.
Normally for the Early Voting period, the Watauga County Board of Elections hires just over 100 people to work. And for Election Day, there are usually around 125 people. However, this year, the Board of Elections office would like to have back-up teams in place. Meaning, they are willing to pay individuals to come to training and get paid to be on standby should something come up and they’re needed.
“I would love to have double those numbers,” Snyder said. “I would love to have 200 people that we have trained and ready to go for One Stop Early Voting, knowing that we will only use roughly around 100. And for Election Day, I would love to have 200 people just in preparation because the election is happening no matter what. We’re trying to be as prepared as possible for anything that happens, and by having a pool of folks that we can pull from that’s twice as big than what we normally have, we feel comfortable that that will help us deal with anything that comes up.”
For those who are interested in applying to be an election official during Early Voting or on Election day, can find more information online at the Watauga County Board of Elections website at http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/home.aspx or by calling the office at 828-265-8061.
The application can be found online at http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/Forms/BOE_Application.pdf.