Poll workers needed ahead of Alabama primaries

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – From registering voters and verifying their registration to distributing the correct ballots, poll workers play a vital role in ensuring the smooth running of elections in Alabama.

The state has 1,980 polling places, and some probate judges say staffing each of them with enough voters ahead of the primaries has been difficult.

“They are an essential part of the electoral process,” said Autauga County Probate Judge Kim Kervin.

Kervin says his county hasn’t had any issues recruiting election workers due to COVID concerns, but they still have fewer than in the last election.

“We think we have enough to serve in this role, but I know our numbers are down a bit,” Kervin said.

Coosa County is in a similar situation. Probate Judge Richard Dean says they are very close to getting the 85 poll workers needed to run the 13 precincts.

“We are working hard to try to get election workers. This election has been very difficult,” Dean said.

Judge Dean says the effects of COVID are still being felt.

“We had a lot of our people who were sick with COVID, and it left them debilitated to the point where they can’t work at the ballot box and we lost a handful of workers who died from COVID,” Dean said.

Dean says a new code allowing poll workers to work anywhere in the county, even outside of their own precinct, has helped with staffing. The same goes for a recent law allowing high school students to help out.

“We passed a law in 2019 that allows high school students aged 16 or 17 to participate in surveys. They can do any job a poll worker can do except manage the ballot,” said Secretary of State John Merrill.

Merrill encourages anyone interested to get involved in local elections.

“The role of the poll worker is extraordinarily important. Because Alabama is a bottom-up state, it’s obvious that election security, integrity, and transparency start with our poll workers there at our precinct level,” Merrill said.

If you are interested in becoming a poll worker, contact your county probate judge for more information or contact the office of the Secretary of State.


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