Public Policy Institute sponsors effort to diversify pool of poll workers

Update: The College Poll Worker Recruitment Program in Jackson County has been canceled for this year.

Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute is sponsoring a collaborative effort to recruit more students and citizens with diverse backgrounds to serve as poll workers in county elections.

Poll workers set up and take down polling place equipment, check voters’ registration and demonstrate use of voting systems. In 2008, the average age of poll workers in Jackson County was 68, according to information from the PPI.

“It is very important to get younger people involved in the community, and being an election poll worker is a great way to participate,” said Hayden Smith, a sophomore political science major from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and assistant coordinator for the College Poll Worker Recruitment Program.

Poll workers for the general election to be held Tuesday, Nov. 3, will be required to attend a two-hour training session, which typically is held the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the election, and to be present at the precinct for the entirety of their assigned time. Poll workers are compensated $25 for the training session, and $7 per hour and $5 per meal on election day.

The College Poll Worker Recruitment Program is a collaborative effort of WCU’s PPI, Southwestern Community College, the Jackson County Board of Elections and the Buncombe County Board of Elections.

For more information about serving as a poll worker, contact the Jackson County Board of Elections at (828) 586-7538. For information about the College Poll Worker Recruitment Program, contact Smith by phone at (615) 604-9244 or by e-mail at hjsmith@catamount.wcu.edu.