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With the August primary election weeks away and November fast approaching, election authorities around the Kansas City metro are recruiting poll workers who can help run precincts.
Workers are needed for a variety of paid positions on election day. One day of training ahead of the election is required. Poll workers get paid different rates depending on the position and jurisdiction they work in.
In Kansas City proper, an election judge gets paid $275 a day, plus compensation for training. In Jackson County outside of Kansas City, an election judge gets paid $165 a day.
Poll workers show up before the polls open, help check voters into polling places and ensure they have the proper ballot.
They are required to work in bipartisan team pairings of Republican and Democrat to ensure fairness. If someone is an unaffiliated voter, they will be asked to choose which major party they most closely align with.
Judges also transport and set up election equipment and return ballots to the processing center at the end of the night.
Tammy Brown, one of the county clerks in Jackson County, said her office is always looking for more volunteers to get engaged in the democratic process. Many people who show up to work are surprised at the breadth of the operation, she said.
“We run elections everywhere,” Brown said. “They don’t realize we do Grain Valley, Lone Jack, Raytown, Independence. They don’t realize all the different areas we cover, and how many school districts and city municipalities and fires and waters we have. Once they leave, they’re like, ‘OK, now I get a little bit understanding of what you guys actually do.’”
Prospective poll workers must be a registered voter in the voting jurisdiction where they volunteer. They must be fluent in English and cannot serve in a polling place where a close relative is on the ballot.
The Jackson County Election Board has a description of each poll worker position available online.
Brown also said her office would love to see more young people get involved.
“We’re always looking for good people,” she said. “We’ve got some very dedicated judges, but you know, every two to four years we get some of our really good ones drop off because they started having health issues, or because we have an older pool of judges, and we’re trying to find ways to get younger people involved.”
Part of what makes that important, she said, is the heavy lifting that the job can require.
“It would be nice to have a – when I say ‘young strapping man’ I’m saying young, strapping 50-or-65-year-old that could do some of the heavier lifting,” Brown said.
How to sign up to be a poll worker
The Kansas City Election Board uses anywhere from 800 to 1,200 poll workers for election day, according to its website. There are various judge positions, which require workers to arrive at 5 a.m. to prepare to open the polls at 6 a.m. and close the polls down that day at 7 p.m.
In Jackson County, those who are interested can fill out a questionnaire and return it to the board. Registered voters in Platte County can apply here, and registered voters in Clay County can apply here.
You can also apply via an online form on the Missouri secretary of state’s website. The office will direct applications to the correct jurisdiction.