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Monday, April 21, 2014

It’s not easy, or that hard, to be a poll worker

By Adam Wisnieski
Posted
MARISOL DÍAZ/THE RIVERDALE PRESS
Inspector Jackie Ginsbery and David Suss work the election tables at RKA while lunch is in session on Thursday.

 

Working the polls all day requires stamina.

A poll worker’s day begins hours before sunrise and ends hours after sunset. Though polls open at 6 a.m., workers must be at their sites by 5 a.m. and normally head home at about 10 p.m. 

To be hired as an inspector or poll clerk, one must attend a six-hour training class and pass an exam. Even workers that have been manning polls for decades must do so before each Election Day.

They are paid $100, ($35 for interpreters, door clerks and information clerks) for the class. But they only get paid once they complete a full day at the polls.

Workers get paid $200 for Election Day, though the BOE gives a $75 bonus to those who have worked two Election Days and a $35 bonus for interpreters, door clerks and information clerks.

“[The pay] is nil compared to how many hours we work,” said Jackie Ginsberg, a Riverdalian who woke up at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 13 to make it to her poll site at the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141 before 5 a.m.

Staff are allotted 30 minutes for lunch and 30 minutes for dinner, which the BOE recently reduced from one hour per meal. In between, they spend 17 hours looking up voter names, handing out and scanning ballots and dealing with voters, who can sometimes be abusive if their names are missing from the BOE’s voting rolls or if they are not registered to vote in the given election.

When ballots don’t scan properly, they’re there. When cockroaches make a run around the voting machines (poll worker Robert Reeves had a nice kill at the Marble Hill Community Center last week), they’re there. When nobody shows up to vote, they’re there, too. 

During the June state Senate primary, the Church of the Mediator’s tally was a little off at the end of the night.

“They punished us,” said poll worker Angelica Laro, 60.

Mediator poll workers had to attend a one-hour class on how to close if they wanted to work another election. But many of them came back. 

It’s an exercise in endurance that even the NYPD officers stationed at poll sites get to do in shifts. So why become a poll worker?

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