Board, parties seek more poll workers

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, September 15, 2016

A smooth, efficient election and speedy lines at polling places are paramount desires for Beaufort County elections officials and political parties’ leaders.

To that end, the board met with county Republican Party officials and Democratic Party officials Thursday to find ways turn those desires into reality. Although the elections officials and parties’ officials reviewed election- and voting-related rules and procedures during the meeting, they all recognized the need for more poll workers for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election. They expect a large voter turnout, a turnout that could be taxing on poll workers.

The meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, was beneficial, according to Cathy Gaynor, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, and Keith Kidwell, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party. Republicans Paul Varcoe and Rick Gagliano, party officials, and Eltha Booth, a Democrat on the Beaufort County Board of Education, also attending the meeting.

“It covered everything that I had a question about. It was very informative,” Gaynor said.

“This was fabulous. Not only was it informative for us, but it was a give-and-take so we were able to voice our opinions to the Board of Elections and also get feedback from them on what we can better do to help them. I think I it will make fore a cleaner, smoother election process,” Kidwell said.

To help ensure the voting process is as smooth and fast as possible, the parties committed to recruiting as many additional poll workers as possible. Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director, said she would welcome the additional help and train the additional poll workers. Hopkins also said she wants to place an “elections technician” at each polling place to assist poll workers as they deal with voters. Elections technicians could provide assistance with voters filling out provisional ballots, determining if a voter is voting in the proper precinct and handling technical matters in an effort to prevent lines from forming at polling places.

“What we’re going to do with that person (elections technician) is they’re not going to be a judge, they’re not going to be chief judge. We don’t want them doing hearings. We don’t want them doing curbside ballots. We’re going to bring that person in and we’re going to over-train them of laptops and we’re going to over-train them on the voting equipment,” Hopkins said.

For the upcoming election, most of the county’s 21 precincts will receive a third laptop to help improve the voting process, Hopkins noted. “We’re going to do provisionals (ballots) on the laptops. We may have one of those laptops (at each polling place) dealing with problems so it doesn’t stop the other two so the other two can go bam, bam, bam as fast as they can go,” she said.

The two parties support having additional help at the polls. The additional poll workers would require training.

“I started getting calls two or three months ago that we should anticipate an increased need for poll workers for this election. We started trying to recruit some additional people in the eventuality that we need more poll workers,” Kidwell added.

Anyone interested in serving as a poll worker should contact the Beaufort County Board of Elections at 252-946-2321, the Beaufort County Republican Party at 252-947-0105 or the Beaufort County Democratic Party at 252-944-6595.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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