With the Democratic National Convention kicking off last night and some old crazy guy yelling at a chair last week, it's beginning to look a lot like election season everywhere you go.
Only, there's a teensy problem going on at the St. Louis County Board of Elections: They're about a thousand poll workers short of what they need for the November presidential election.
"We're doing the very best we can but we do need the assistance of the public to come forward and give us some of their time," says Elections Director Rita Days.
A typical countywide election would require 3,400 to 3,500 poll workers, and the county already has 4,728 active workers. But with a high-stakes presidential race on the ticket, officials are betting on a much larger voter turnout and calculated they'll need 5,124 men and women on the job at polling stations. Factor in active workers who'll get sick or have some kind of conflict on election night, and Days figures she's about 1,000 bodies short.
That's a little nerve-wracking, especially after some of the goofs that the office went through in the August election. In the 87th district, Brentwood polling workers handed out 102 incorrect ballots, which required a total do-over (set for September 24) in the race between Rep. Susan Carlson and Rep. Stacey Newman.
"We did have some folks that handed out the wrong ballots. That's why, when we are looking for people we are looking for people who have a basic level of skill that they can bring to the job," says Days. "It was human error...they just didn't follow directions."
So Days is putting out a call to members of the (competent) public -- come work the polls. It's a paid position, $130 to $180 depending on the title. Poll workers must be registered voters, and there needs to be an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Training is required (there's a stipend for that, too) and on the day-of, workers will need to help the public check in, correctly operate voting machines, give them the right ballot, and reload paper into machines. For all the details, just click here, or apply with Lori Wroble at 314-615-1892 or Sally Shaw at 314-615-1965.
Days says that she is concerned about not hitting her recruitment numbers, and that an infusion of new blood in the polling stations would be a huge help.
"It is a very long day. We have an aging workforce," she says. "We want people to understand, there's no mystery about this. You have to be a registered voter and that's all."