The Duties of Polling Officers

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States are divided into geographic voting groups known as precincts, and every precinct is assigned a specific location as the voting center for that precinct. Voters come to the established voting center to cast ballots on election day. Polling officers are also known as polling workers, precinct workers or precinct officers. They are responsible for working on election day within the voting center to assist voters, help maintain order and provide direction for a fair election.

Maintaining the Polling Place

  • Polling officers are charged with maintaining the polling location itself. The officer typically arrives at the polling place early in the morning to unlock and open the doors and assist fellow precinct workers as they begin setting up to receive voters. The polling officer helps ensure that all required supplies are present and that all voting equipment is present, set up and functioning properly. The officer also ensures that the polling location is locked securely in the evening following the election.

Check-in Voters

  • As voters line up to vote, polling officers greet and verify all voter registration paperwork. Precinct workers are responsible for finding the name of each voter on the roster and on a street index when applicable. An officer also checks voter registration paperwork when a voter chooses to register on the day of election, if that's allowed in the jurisdiction. The voter must be verified as a resident of the precinct, and the voter registration must be considered valid before a voter can be allowed to vote.

Issuing Ballots

  • When a voter has been appropriately identified, the polling officer is responsible for issuing the ballot to a voter. Ballots are kept secure and will not be handed out except to registered voters. The polling officer provides a ballot to a verified voter. In some cases, the officer is also responsible for receiving the ballot back from the voter if a self-service ballot box is not in use. In the case of electronic voting, the polling officer oversees orderly access to the voting machines.

Assist Voters

  • The polling officer is expected to provide assistance to voters as needed throughout the day. Polling officers provide direction on line formation, and instruct waiting voters on the documentation required for presentation prior to voting. Polling officers also provide help and assistance to voters with questions or concerns. They explain the operation of the electronic voting machines in locations where they are in use.

Ballot Recovery

  • Following the end of the election day, the polling officers are responsible for collecting the paper ballots from the ballot boxes or other secure storage location. The ballots may be picked up from the polling location by a courier, or the polling officers may be charged with the duty of delivering the ballots to a predetermined location.

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