Election officials campaign for poll workers in Allegheny, Westmoreland counties | TribLIVE.com

Election officials campaign for poll workers in Allegheny, Westmoreland counties

Renatta Signorini

Poll workers are becoming hard to find, both locally and statewide.

It’s important work — checking in voters and delivering results — that takes more than 40,000 volunteers across Pennsylvania to make sure the process runs smoothly.

But fewer are interested, making it a problem that seems to get worse annually.

“That’s something that we have, it is ongoing, it just depends on what area,” said Beth Lechman, director of the Westmoreland County Elections Bureau.

“Allegheny County has the same challenges. And in talking with my colleagues across the state, every county has these same issues,” said David Voye, elections division manager there. “We are always searching for poll workers and have been very aggressive in recruiting volunteers who are paid for their day of work.”

It’s been getting progressively harder over the last decade to get volunteers, Voye said. The suburban precincts tend to need the most poll workers.

Poll workers are paid for their daylong duties. They must be registered voters.

Judges of election are responsible for overseeing the entire process from opening the polling place to returning all of the results and supplies.

Inspectors and clerks of election act as assistants to process voters and accompany them to voting machines.

In Westmoreland County, poll workers are paid between $95 and $130 for the day. Empty spots tend to center around the cities, such as Monessen, Lechman said.

Bureau workers got several volunteers during the past week to fill open spots, but one more poll worker for the May 21 primary is needed in Avonmore.

Poll workers make a bit more in Allegheny County, between $115 and $140.

It isn’t an average work day — polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. But the working hours stretch beyond those times. Polls are open for primary elections in the spring and the general election in the fall.

There are 305 voting precincts in Westmoreland. The number of poll workers at each range from three to about seven, depending on the volume of voters. Allegheny has 1,322 precincts.

“This past November, we paid 7,771 poll workers for the day of work,” Voye said.

The state has created a work group of election officials to address the lack of poll workers, as well as other measures in an effort to reach potential volunteers and keep them, said Wanda Murren, a Department of State spokeswoman.

“In many counties, it is the number one problem cited by election directors,” she said.

Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed certain election reforms, including a measure that would allow for more absentee voting, Murren said.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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