Become a Poll Worker/Observer

Anyone can be a poll worker but observers must be nominated by a political party. In a general or primary election, Maricopa County hires nearly 1,000 temporary workers to assist in their downtown (MCTEC) operation and nearly 3,000 to assist in the polling locations. In the November 2020 general election, there were 175 manned polling locations (and 38 drop boxes). At MCTEC, jobs include signature verification, adjudication, warehouse work, affidavit envelope opening and ballot smoothing. The county needs couriers and tech support personnel to travel between locations. In 2022, the county will start employing pairs of couriers (so they can be of different party affiliations). In 2020 every polling location had a staff of 10 poll workers.

It’s a real job to be a poll worker. You must work a full day (and Election Day is very long) and you cannot leave. You get paid (something like $13/hour). The county prefers people who can work the entire election rather than just Election Day, so the commitment is for many days’ work.

Your job is to help people vote. The law says everyone gets to vote and the rules sometimes don’t make sense but if you accept the job, you must do it by the county’s rules. There is a hierarchy in the polling location. You may start as a clerk, the lowest position, and your job is to help the more senior staff even if they do not impress you. This kind of job attracts people who like seasonal work, and who may be otherwise unemployable, but the county rewards seniority.

Nevertheless, if you wish to learn the mechanics of elections and observe actual practice, it is far preferable to be a worker rather than an observer.

In the neighboring posts I try to reproduce a two day Premium Training course I attended at MCTEC in November 2021. The purpose of the course was to train inspectors and judges, the highest ranking workers in a polling location. Here is a searchable copy of the Manual.