ASHEVILLE — Buncombe County Election Services needs people, hundreds of them at all levels, full-time and part-time, starting new jobs before the summer is over.
Early voting runs from October 20 to November 20. 5, and the county is looking for election officers, seasonal workers, and a few full-time staff to join a growing team.
Election services are looking to hire about 100 people for 17 days of early voting work — they pay $12 an hour for workers and $14 for captains — and will need 560 poll workers for the Nov. 8 general election. .
On that day, a chief judge from each polling place earns $300, party judges $225 and deputies $200.
Election services is closing on 20 seasonal positions — full-time employees earning $17 an hour who are hired from Sept. 1 through mid-November — and four permanent positions, two vacant positions and two new outreach positions.
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More information on all of these positions is available at buncombecounty.org.
“Our election workers are the backbone of safe and fair elections,” Chief Electoral Officer Corrine Duncan said in a recent press release announcing the position. “Without them, we would not be able to provide our voters in Buncombe County with the best experience at the polls, whether they vote early or on Election Day.”
Of all those positions, those needed for Election Day can sometimes be difficult to contest, especially at the eleventh hour, according to Duncan.
Judges are nominated by the Democratic and Republican parties and appointed by the Buncombe County Board of Elections.
“But then, we still have these vacancies,” Duncan said. Sometimes Election Day workers give up at the last second. This means that both parties, the board of directors and the electoral services must be vigilant to ensure that all these vacancies are filled and that there are replacements.
“We’re doing our own recruiting and gathering names from both sides and working together to put together this list of judges and chief justices,” Duncan said Aug. 11.
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Election services and parties are helping each other come up with names, Duncan said.
Some of this is easy because it means reaching out to a proven group of people who work in polls everywhere, but parties are also working hard to connect with potential workers before voting begins.
“Our team — our precinct teams, our precinct chairs, our team leaders — are making phone calls starting with people who have worked at the polls before,” party chair Glenda Weinert said. “And then if we get any other names or recommendations, we start calling them.”
Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rose said, “We have a pretty good relationship with the team there,” discussing working with the Board of Elections. The two must communicate as Election Day approaches to ensure that each of the 12 polling stations is fully staffed.
It can be difficult when people who were supposed to be poll workers decide they can’t do the job just before polling day.
Dropouts are more frequent than the electoral services would like. After the March 17 primary, Duncan said there was “a tremendous amount of dropouts. And trying to keep up with that was very difficult. We ended up with fewer workers than we wanted.”
Rose said Democrats are trying to get one or two names to call and fill if there are any shortfalls.
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In March, Duncan said there was a relief group of 40 election workers; Buncombe used all of them.
Election officials and judges are often seasoned, Rose said.
“It’s more the crowd we’re going back to,” he said. “I would say probably two-thirds are people who have done it before and that includes a list of people who have done it in 2020.”
Experience, he added, plays an important role in whether or not people are appointed by the Board of Elections.
“It’s in our best interest to come up with people who are experienced not just from an election administration perspective, but from a ‘We want our people chosen’ perspective.
As electoral services prepare for early voting and the general election, they are also doing outreach to voters.
A contest for teens ages 13 to 18 opened Aug. 11, requesting original artwork for the county’s “I Voted” stickers.
Artwork will be collected through September 2 and can be submitted as a photo, PDF or jpg to Elections@buncombecounty.org.
Andrew Jones is a Buncombe County government and health care reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter, 828-226-6203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Help support this kind of journalism by subscribing to the Citizen Times.