With only 12 days left until midterm elections, Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger is concerned that he does not have enough precinct workers to monitor the polls on election day Nov. 6.
Barger said that finding precinct officers has been a difficulty for several years because the people that work the polls are aging. The average age of a precinct officer in Kentucky is around 65-years-old, Barger said.
“Folks are getting older, and either they aren’t able to put in a 13 hour day—there’s some lifting and moving and equipment to be moved and things,” Barger said. “Same thing is they don’t want to do it anymore because of grandkids and things like that come along and their priorities shift. We’re not seeing a lot of young folks volunteer,” Barger said.
Anyone registered to vote in Madison County is eligible to become a precinct officer. Volunteers are required to take a two-hour “makeup school” that pays $25 and trains officers before they are sworn in. Officers are paid $100 for the 13-hour election day that begins at 5:15 a.m. and lasts until 6:30 p.m.
“There’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with it, but it’s not difficult work. It’s not a hard job—it’s a long day but it’s not difficult,” Barger said.
The duties of precinct officers differ depending upon the position they hold.
Barger explained that the polls have to have a balanced amount of Democratic and Republican officers. Currently, the office is short about 10 Republican alternative officers out of the approximate 235 necessary.
“We must have parity at the polls. You are required to have an even number of Democratic and Republican pollers, and if you can’t, then we must require an emergency order passed by [Kentucky] State Board [of Elections] that allows them to use an offset number,” Barger said.
Barger said the Clerk’s office has had some EKU students volunteer previously.
“We have had some EKU students, but a lot of times Eastern is in session that day, so a lot of people have class,” Barger said.
EKU students receive a day off for presidential elections, but not for midterm elections, as students have regularly scheduled classes.
However, regular full-time employees are allowed up to four hours off to vote with approval of their supervisor, and receive one paid hour in accordance with policy 8.2.4R of the Regulation Library.
Barger said in previous years, his office would hold trainings the night before elections and the clerk’s office would take volunteer sign-ups until the night before election day.
Registered voters of Madison County can apply to be an officer by going to the website at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 859-623-4703.
Students that will be on campus from outside of Madison County on election day can vote early at their county clerk’s office, or submit an absentee ballot.