Santa Clara County faces a critical shortage of election officers to staff the polls come June 5. The Registrar of Voters (ROV) put out a call on Thursday for 1,400 more volunteers to reach its target of 4,000 to assign to 824 polling places countywide.
Election officers are especially needed in San Jose’s Almaden, Willow Glen and downtown neighborhoods as well as in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Saratoga.
“It is always hard to recruit election officers in a primary election,” ROV Shannon Bushey said in a news release. “People may be going on summer vacation, in the midst of exams or already out of school and out of town. We want to get the word out that we do have an urgent need for people to sign up for this vital function of democracy.”
Bilingual workers are in particularly high demand to interact with voters in diverse neighborhoods throughout the region. Bilingual workers are expected to be comfortable conversing in both English and one of the following languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese), Tagalog, Korean, Russian, Farsi, Punjabi, Japanese, Hindi, Telugu, Portuguese, Khmer, Syriac, Tamil, Gujarati and Nepali.
Despite the shortage of volunteers, all polling stations will be up and running June 5.
“We are confident that if the word gets out there that we really need people to sign up, we will see more recruitment in coming weeks,” Bushey said. “We would like to see the full complement on hand at each polling place as well as some reserve officers in the wings.”
Election officers perform a variety of duties, including checking in voters, providing and collecting the ballots and making sure it gets returned to the ROV office to tally. The officers ensure that voters have a safe place to cast their ballot and help accommodate people with disabilities or who speak languages other than English.
The officers earn a $200 stipend for working the polls. They must be at least 16 years old, U.S. citizens or permanent residents and registered voters. There’s no prerequisite experience needed since the ROV offers training.
If you think you’re up to the task, sign up online here.