Elections need poll workers

Bill Gulick and Maria Christmore are shown with a voting machine at the Johnson County Election Office.

Bill Gulick and Maria Christmore are shown with a voting machine at the Johnson County Election Office.

By Gerald Hay

Johnson County needs election workers heading into the 2022 primary in August and general elections in November.

It pays a $110 stipend in helping voters on election day and a $25 stipend for training. Supervising judges are paid $135 stipend plus mileage for transporting election materials.

It is an all-day commitment, too.

It’s also an important right and responsibility. The U.S. Constitution mentions the right to vote five times, more often than other constitutional rights.

Bill Gulick and Maria Christmore, long-time poll workers at the Johnson County Election Office, are among hundreds of election workers who assist tens of thousands of voters in local elections. To them, serving as a poll worker is an important opportunity, a civics lesson and democracy all in an important event – election day when voting matters for poll workers and voters alike.

“In Johnson County, we don’t care how you vote, only that you voted,” Christmore said. “We don’t make the rules. We follow the rules.”

They cited a handful of reasons for why they like being elections workers, including a combination of enjoying the people (fellow poll workers and voters) along with a deep-seated wave of good citizenship and a way of giving back to one’s community in public service.

“Election workers are essential to ensuring that elections are a success. With each election, hundreds of Johnson County residents dedicate themselves to sustaining the backbone of democracy - our election process,” said Election Commissioner Fred Sherman.

The 2022 primary (Aug. 2) and general election (Nov . 8) will each require approximately 2,200 election workers, according to Andrea Lemuz-Glur, election specialist – election workers at the Johnson County Election Office.

“We are looking for people who are able to work on election day and also need more workers than ever before during advance voting as we have increased the number of advance polling locations this year,” she said.

The election office plans to have 16 advance voting locations in Johnson County in the 2022 elections. The county had 10 advance voting sites in the 2020 presidential elections.

In the November 2021 general elections, involving races in cities, school districts and Johnson County Community College, 44% of active election workers were 60 years of age or older. The eldest election worker was 87 years old.

Kansas law requires training of all election workers. Training for Johnson County poll workers begins the month prior to each election. For the primary election, training begins right after the Fourth of July weekend. Training sessions will be offered multiple times, including evening and weekend options.

“Advance polling locations are open either one or two weeks depending on the location. No locations are open on Sundays. People interested in working during advance voting must be willing to work full days of 6 – 12 hours depending on the day of the week and location,” Lemuz-Glur said.

New election workers are required to attend two in-person training sessions. The first is a three-hour, instructor-led classroom session. The second is a hands-on session where workers practice on all election day equipment, including the touchscreen voting machines used in Johnson County elections.