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Erie County Elections Board Needs More Poll Workers

With the general election a year away, officials say they need more than 1,200 people to sign up for training on electronic poll books for in-person voting.

Election workers sorts ballots.
(Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
The Erie County Board of Elections is looking for inspectors to train on new equipment in time for the general election in November.

Officials say they need more than 1,200 people to sign up for training on electronic poll books for in-person voting.

"We're out working hard right now, training folks, and we could always use more," said Jeremy J. Zellner, the Democratic commissioner for the Board of Elections. "This year's going to be the first year that we're going to have everybody on them."

Election inspectors are paid positions, but it's really about public service, Zellner said. The workers are paid $25 for the training class; $250 to work Election Day; $156.20 for working an early voting weekday; and $140.58 for early voting weekend.

The e-poll books were first used in 2019 to check in early voters for the general election that year. Voters don't use the e-poll books to cast their votes. But because of Covid, it was difficult to train enough inspectors to roll out the program all at once, Zellner said.

"We couldn't put more than 10 people in a room and we weren't able to get out and get 100 people so that we could train them, so we were really hampered by that, but we've pushed forward," Zellner said.

Last year, most of the county's polling sites used the e-poll books, he said.

For this year's elections and beyond, the aim is for the whole county to be using the technology.

The devices do not count votes and cannot be hacked in any way, Zellner said.

The way it works, the election inspector asks a voter for his or her name and enters it in the e-pollbook. Once the information is verified, the individual then proceeds to a voting machine to cast his or her ballot.

The e-poll books also can scan voters' registration cards or their driver's licenses.

"So if they want to speed up the process, instead of going through spelling their name or giving them their name and address, they can hand them their voter registration or their license and the iPad scans and pulls up their information," Zellner said. "The inspector checks their information, and they can move forward."

The final training classes for inspectors for the general election are scheduled for the first week in October. Individuals need to apply "as soon as possible" to be processed and assigned, officials said.

"We can get them rolling right away," Zellner said. "Especially if they're flexible with us and are able to move around the county."

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