Another thing you get to do at a caucus is sign up to be an Election Judge. It’s easy to do, just fill out the form provided at the caucus. You can also print, fill out and mail a form at the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder website but this is easier since the location manager will turn it in for you and I’m told by doing this at the caucus you have a better chance of being assigned to your own precinct.
There is a huge need for election judges in general to volunteer at the polling places and this is even more true in some areas for Democrats; by law, each polling place must have at least one Democrat and one Republican. It is greatly appreciated by the folks who run the primary and general elections and it’s actually pretty interesting.
To be an election judge you need to:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be registered in El Paso County
- Have dependable transportation
- Attend one 1/2 day training session
- Be willing to do any assigned job
And for this, you get paid about $100!!! And have a warm, fuzzy feeling about promoting democracy and doing your civic duty. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
So what are the jobs you might be assigned:
- AccuVote Supply Judge – Picks up supplies, assists with AccuVote ballot box, Returns voted ballots to election HQ
- Precinct Receiving Judge – Checks in voters for a given precinct, gives out correct paper ballot or touch screen card
- Paper Ballot Judge – Assigns correct paper ballot, gives voter instructions
- Touch Screen Supply Judge – Picks up supplies, sets up touch screen, assists voters in using touch screen
- Touch Screen Ballot Judge – Assists with touch screen setup, verifies correct precinct, ballot style etc and encodes voter access cars
- Provisional Ballot Judge – Instructs voters who need a provision ballot on how to complete affidavit
Some of these positions can be combined in polling places with few precincts or where there are not enough judges. I have done all but the AccuVote Supply Judge role over the last few elections.
The training includes a manual describing all the positions (sometimes judges will sub for other judges while they take a lunch break, etc.). You spend 1/2 day at the training site–the last couple of times the training was at Mr. Biggs. The logistics involved in putting on an election are pretty impressive and the people who sign up to be election judges are a varied group.
Election day is a full day for an election judge–you get up very early to get to the polling place and you stay until the very end–after the last voter votes and the counts are done and the machines and supplies are packed up. You are not allowed any electronic entertainment during the day (no laptop, netbook, ipod, ipad, smartphone, etc.) and no newspaper or anything else that might have political content. So what do I do? I bring snacks, water and lunch You aren’t allowed to leave and go out, though you could arrange for a friend to bring you a coffee and a burger. I bring (strictly non-politcal) books and magazines to read, crosswords, etc. But I find that I usually don’t get around to reading very much. Either we are busy with voters during peak times or we are chatting among ourselves or subbing for another judge. So it doesn’t seem like a long day at all. If you are assigned to your own precinct you get to see your neighbors and friends come in to vote.
If you are not assigned to your own precinct, you should vote early or vote absentee to make sure you don’t miss out. Again, you cannot leave the polling place until the very end of the day. It’s also possible you could be asked to help delver the ballots and other materials to election HQ after your polling place closes so you might be out a bit longer than the rest. At the end of it, it will be a very full but fascinating and satisfying day and you will know a lot more about the mechanics of how voting is done here in Colorado.