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More poll workers needed
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Officials were expecting a larger than usual voter turnout for elections this year, but no one quite anticipated the influx of constituents ready to cast their ballots in the March Presidential Preference.

"You can't accurately predict who's going to show up," said Dan Pichon, a longtime poll worker. "We generally overstaff for that at the start of the day, and as we see what the flow is, we either send people home or we call in people."

Pichon is encouraging others to join as poll workers and be a part of the process.

"It's satisfying. It's enjoyable. You're part of something that's so important to us as Americans," he said.

With several contested local races in addition to the race for the presidency, 2016 promises to be a busy election year.

Voters will go to the polls May 24 for the general primary, which on the county level will field four candidates for sheriff, four candidates for tax commissioner, and two candidates for each of the three commission seats on the ticket.

In the event there is a runoff in the sheriff or tax commission contests, which is likely, the runoff election will be held July 26.

Then the presidential election will be Nov. 8.

Each election includes three weeks of early voting, as well as a Saturday for voters to cast ballots, all of which require poll workers.

"We don't throw new poll workers into the mix on Election Day. We try to bring them in for early voting and familiarize them, even though it's a slightly different procedure," Pichon said. "The Presidential Preference proved you can have a lot of stress on the day of election because of the turnout. It can be very dramatic."

Linda Moore is the poll manager for the East Precinct at Fire Station No. 2.

She doesn't mind the stress or the long hours of Election Day, when workers generally report an hour before polls open and stay up to an hour or two after they close.

"It's fun and exciting. You get to see so many people you know and meet new people," she said. "We just have a lot of fun, and it's really all about giving back and being a part of the community."

While the county has had a few new poll workers sign up in recent weeks, there's still a need for additional men and women.

"The average time a poll worker works is somewhere between 12 and 20 years. Once we get you in, we don't let you out until you beg for relief. It becomes kind of a family affair. These people work together closely," Pichon said.

Poll workers must live in the county, be a registered voter and have a willingness to take the training, most of which is taught in video tutorials.

"You also need some exposure to computer systems, and then we will bring you up to speed on state law and regulations," Pichon said.

Pay for workers starts at $10 per hour and goes up to $15 per hour for poll managers.

For more information, call (706) 344-3640.