Catoosa County poll workers in training

Catoosa County poll workers receive at least six hours of training.

When you go to vote, you’ll be greeted by people called poll workers. They’ve been trained to make sure your voting experience is smooth and legal.

This year, with new voting machines and an extra step in the voting process, Catoosa County Elections Director Tonya Moore says it’s all the more important for poll workers to be well-trained.

“Our workers will be making sure each voter inserts their ballot into the scanner and that no one accidentally walks out the door with their ballot uncast,” says Moore.

Poll workers put in some long hours during early voting and on election day, often starting at 6 a.m. and running until after 8 p.m.

Poll workers typically get six hours of training. After that they are scheduled to work during elections based on their availability. “Some years, like presidential election years,” says Moore, “we need a lot more workers.”

Many poll workers are people who are retired and interested in being involved in their communities, but Moore says her department also recruits poll workers from local high schools. “Students are great at helping with our technology and they can earn volunteer hours for the poll work they do.”

Poll workers can be as young as 16 years old. There are some basic qualifications a poll worker must meet. O.C.G.A. §21-2-92 (a) says a poll worker “shall be able to read, write, and speak the English language.” You can’t be running for or holding public office, and if you’re related closely to a candidate, by birth or marriage, you can’t serve in a precinct where the related candidate appears on the ballot.”

The code also stipulates that poll workers be “judicious, intelligent, and upright citizens of the United States.” You must be a resident of or employed by the municipality where you’ll be serving as a poll worker.

“We are so grateful to have a such an awesome team of poll workers in Catoosa County,” says Moore.

Moore says she has enough poll workers for the 2019 elections, but 2020 will be a big year, with a presidential election and an election for commissioners for Walker County’s new form of government.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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