'It's very tedious and it can be stressful,' Vigo County boosts pay for poll workers, trying to bring in more volunteers

Officials say the low pay, tedious process and long hours can often turn people away from getting involved.

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 6:35 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - It's kind of like the night before Christmas for Carole Reynolds.

"I wake up excited," she said, "I do, I wake up excited and I'm like this is going to be a great day!"

Reynolds has volunteered as a poll worker for the last several elections in Vigo County. She credits her dad as the reason she got involved. 

"My dad was a World War II veteran," said Reynolds, "and he used to have to push me to go get my vote in, and then as I got older, I realized what a privilege it was to be able to vote."

Reynolds was among several volunteers for a training session at Honey Creek Mall on Monday, one of the early voting locations for the Indiana primary.

Volunteers met to get familiar with the voting equipment and process ahead of early voting, which starts on Tuesday. 

"They'll be learning how to use the new e-Poll books," said Chief Deputy Clerk LeAnna Moore, "They're brand new, first time we're going to use them this year. They're very simple and much easier than before."

While learning the new equipment was easy for Monday's group of volunteers, Moore says they've struggled in finding qualified poll workers. 

"We did a poll of all the counties in Indiana," she said, "We were one of the lower paid for our size of counties."

Along with the low pay, Moore says the tedious process and long hours can often turn people away from getting involved.

"You cannot expect people to come in and put in an entire day, a day away from their families," Moore said, "This is a civil service job, and we are so grateful for so many that do come out, but we are always looking for more."

"We have people that have other obligations and have to quit at the last minute," she added, "and there's always going to be a spot for someone if they would like to work."

With the primary election being smaller, Moore says it's a bit easier to work with. However, Moore predicts next year to be huge, as well as the need for more help.

"In a smaller election, each polling center has to have six people," she said, "and then those people, especially early voters, they have to be open two Saturdays. So some of the election workers have to take a day off during the week, so we need alternate workers for those days."

"It is just really hard to get people to come in to volunteer for that length of time," she added.

To stay competitive with other counties and attract more volunteers, Moore said they recently raised the pay for Election Day.

"We want to be fair to the poll workers," said Moore, "That's a very long day. We want to make sure that they're getting compensated for their efforts for the day, as well as food. They have to bring their own food, and snacks and drinks for the entire day. A 12 to 14 hour day is a really long time, so we did get the food increase as well, the food budget."

Moore says the inspector position increased from $140 to $175 and judges increased from $110 to $150. As for everyone else in the polling center, Moore says their pay will go up from $100 to $140. 

As for the meal allowance, Moore says that has jumped from about $20 to $30. 

Moore says they're also working on reaching out to a younger audience to help with the polls. She says the clerk's office has been in talks with Indiana State University to potentially bring in student volunteers for future elections.

"A lot of the people that we have have been working the elections for years and years," said Moore, "We are really trying to get some of the youth involved, some of the college students. We are in the process of getting some of them, trying to get them, to work the election or work some part of the election so they know the process."

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