Frequently Asked Questions
Should I be a Poll Worker or a Poll Observer?
We are asking you to sign up to be a Poll Worker.
Poll Workers, which are paid election workers, have more rights and authority than Poll Observers. As a Poll Worker, you are administering the election and can ensure the rules and laws of our elections are being followed. Poll Observers are limited in what they can challenge and the authority they have.
What is the difference between a Poll Worker and a Poll Observer?
A Poll Worker is a paid election worker, hired by the local municipality to administer an election. A Poll Worker is trained by the local or county elections department and given a credential to work in the upcoming election. An Election Inspector does NOT have to live in the county or city in which they want to work.
There are five basic roles of an Poll Worker:
1. General Poll Worker
A general Poll Worker fills a variety of roles within the precinct during early voting and on Election Day, including but not limited to: helping the voter when the tabulator rejects their ballot, assuring voter secrecy is maintained, referring to the Inspector (defined below) when an unusual situation arises, providing excellent customer service, and providing accurate information and helping voters.
The marshal is responsible for preserving order at the voting location, which includes: 1. Announcing the opening and closing of the polls, A.R.S. § 16-565(C); 2. Preserving order and preventing any violation of election law, including voter intimidation or electioneering within the 75-foot limit, from the opening of the polls until the count of the ballots is completed, A.R.S. § 16-535(B); and 3. Periodically measuring the length of wait times, notifying the inspector if wait times have the potential to equal or exceed the 30-minute maximum, and implementing measures to reduce voter wait time, including having the authority to request additional voting equipment or supplies and board workers or to appoint additional board workers upon approval of the officer in charge of elections, A.R.S. § 16-535(B). The marshal may also perform the duties of any other election board worker on a relief basis. A.R.S. § 16-535(B).
The inspector serves as the chair of the election board and exercises authority over all election elated activities at the voting location (under the direction of the county officer in charge of elections, who maintains overall authority over the voting location). The inspector usually acts as the single point-of-contact with the officer in charge of elections, poll worker hotline, troubleshooters, or other entity designated by the officer in charge of elections to provide assistance on Election Day.
The inspector’s specific duties include the following: 1. As chair of the election board, maintain sufficient knowledge about election procedures and voting equipment; 2. Lead and assign duties to other poll workers, including appointing a substitute judge, marshal, or clerk (while maintaining political party balance) if a poll worker fails to show up or fails to perform their duty on Election Day and no alternative poll worker is available, A.R.S. § 16-534(A), A.R.S. § 16-533; and 3. Ensure the polling place is setup and functions properly, including publicly opening the sealed package of official ballots, ensuring the required ballot styles/types are present, certifying the voting roster, posting appropriate lists and notices, arranging the voting booths, and assisting electors, A.R.S. § 16-563, A.R.S. § 16-312(E), A.R.S. § 16-343(F)- (G), A.R.S. § 16-169(B), A.R.S. § 16-579(D)-(E), A.R.S. § 16-572(A).
Judges oversee the voting process itself, which may generally include: 1. Issuing ballots to qualified voters, A.R.S. § 16-579(C), A.R.S. § 16-467(B), A.R.S. § 16- 572(B); 2. Signing the roster for an elector who is unable to sign because of physical disability, A.R.S. § 16-579(D)-(E); and 3. Examining electronic voting equipment and comparing the number of votes cast as indicated on the machine with the number indicated on the poll list (or e-pollbook) and the number of provisional ballots cast, A.R.S. § 16-602(A).
A Poll Observer is a volunteer position where the Republican Party is responsible for training and the Republican county party chair is responsible for assigning credentials to individuals who wish to observe the election process and report anything they believe violates state election law. A poll observer is legally protected and allowed to be at any precinct location or central count location as long as they have been given a credential by the Republican Party County Chairman.
What is the time commitment to be an Election Worker or Poll Observer?
We are asking anyone who signs up to be an Election Worker to be able to work all day on August 2nd for the primary election and all day on November 8th for the general election. It is also required that you attend a training conducted by the local or county elections department in the municipality you will be working.
The time commitment to being a Poll Observer is like that of an Election Worker. We are asking volunteers to be available on August 2nd for in person early voting in certain counties and on November 8th.
When will trainings take place?
Trainings to be a Poll Worker are given by the local or county elections department depending on the area you will be working. Typically, the elections departments begin their trainings in the summer months of June and July. Once your application is turned in, you will be contacted by the elections department with information on when upcoming trainings will take place. The Arizona Election Protection Team will be in constant contact with the county election departments as well to make sure we are aware of when the trainings will take place.
Trainings to be a Poll Observer will begin in April in certain areas and run through Election Day. We will be hosting trainings in-person and via zoom. We will be posting information on trainings on the Arizona Election Protection Website, as well as through emails and other means of communication.
Can I be a Precinct Committeeman and be a Poll Worker?
Yes. You can be both a precinct committeeman and a Poll Worker as long as you work in a different location than the precinct in which your name is on the ballot.
Bilingual Poll Workers
Jurisdictions covered under the language minority provisions under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act should appoint bilingual poll workers and/or ensure access to on-site or remote interpretation services in the covered language(s) to provide language assistance to voters who need it. Additionally, an Election Terminology Glossary in the covered languages should be provided among the polling place supplies.
Student Poll Workers
The Board of Supervisors may appoint a student to serve as a clerk on the election board if the student: • Will be at least 16 years old at the time of the election; • Will be a United States citizen at the time of the election; and • Provides written permission from a parent or guardian. A student poll worker must receive poll worker training and must be supervised by a trained adult poll worker at the voting location. A.R.S. § 16-531(F). A student’s absence from school due to service as a student poll worker does not affect the school’s average daily membership or count against any mandatory attendance requirements for the student. A.R.S. § 15-901(A)(1); A.R.S. § 16-531(G).
Appointment and Training of Poll Workers
At least 20 days before a primary or general election, the Board of Supervisors must appoint at least the following poll workers for each polling place with more than 300 qualified electors and each vote center: • One inspector; • Two judges; One marshal; and • As many clerks as deemed necessary. A.R.S. § 16-531(A).
The inspector, judges, marshal (and clerks, if applicable) are collectively known as the “election board” for a particular voting location and are referred as poll workers or board workers. The officer in charge of elections must provide a report containing each poll worker’s name, position, precinct, and political party to the Board of Supervisors.
Poll workers must be registered voters, except for student poll workers. In assigned polling place elections, each poll worker must be a registered voter in the precinct of assignment unless there are not enough poll workers that meet this residential requirement. A.R.S. § 16-531(A).
Other than candidates for precinct committeeman, no candidate (nor the spouse, child, or parent of a candidate) for any office on the ballot may serve as a poll worker during that election.
The officer in charge of elections shall ensure that the election board is comprised of individuals registered with different political parties. At minimum, for partisan elections, if the inspector is a member of one of the two largest political parties, the marshal must be a member of the other of the two largest political parties and each of the two judges must be registered with different political parties. An inspector, marshal, or judge may not serve in that position if they have changed their political party registration since the last general election
At least 90 days before an election, the county chairperson of the two largest political parties may designate qualified electors to serve on election boards. When the list is timely submitted, it shall be used to appoint judges. Whenever possible, any person appointed as an inspector shall have had previous experience as an inspector, judge, marshal, or clerk of elections. If there is no qualified person in a given precinct, the appointment of an inspector may be made from names designated by the county party chairperson. Any registered voter in the precinct, or alternatively, in another precinct, may be appointed as a clerk. A.R.S. § 16-531(A)
Election Board Duties
The following duties must be performed by the members comprising the election board. The officer in charge of elections may allocate these duties among different board members as deemed appropriate:
1. Prepare and monitor the voting location, including taking appropriate measures to preserve order and manage voter lines, A.R.S. § 16-562, A.R.S. § 16-512;
2. Open, exhibit, and lock the ballot box before receiving any ballots, A.R.S. § 16-564(A);
3. Maintain the signature roster or e-pollbook;
4. Check for proper identification;
5. Direct voters in the wrong polling place to the correct polling place, including the specific address (for assigned polling place elections only);
6. Mark spoiled ballots (inspector and only one judge required), A.R.S. § 16-585;
7. Ensure that voted ballots are deposited in the correct ballot box, and deposit ballots in the ballot box at the voter’s request, A.R.S. § 16-580(C);
8. Assist voters in using accessible voting equipment and assist voters in marking the ballot (two board members of different political parties required), A.R.S. § 16-580(E);
9. Close the polls (inspector and two judges required); A.R.S. § 16-565(C);
10. Prepare a report of the number of voters who have voted and seal the box containing the voted ballots, A.R.S. § 16-608(A), A.R.S. § 16-616; and
11. Return the signature roster, copies of the precinct registers, and other election supplies to the Board of Supervisors or officer in charge of elections. A.R.S. § 16-617.
Poll Worker Compensation
The Board of Supervisors must set the compensation of poll workers, which constitutes a county charge. A.R.S. § 16-536. The Board of Supervisors may approve poll worker pay by virtue of approving the election director’s budget for the forthcoming election. Poll workers must be paid at least $30 per day. A.R.S. § 16-536. The Board of Supervisors may approve additional compensation for premium board workers. A.R.S. § 16-532(D).
Political party representatives are permitted to observe at voting locations and central counting places for partisan elections.
The County Recorder or other officer in charge of elections may develop additional local procedures governing political party observation. Additional procedures shall allow political party observers to effectively observe the election process, and no changes to the procedures shall be made after the Tuesday prior to the election in order to facilitate compliance by the county political parties and designees.
The county chairperson (or designee) of each party represented on the ballot must submit the names of specific political party observers to the County Recorder or officer in charge of elections in writing (in hard copy or electronically in advance of observation, as required by the County Recorder or officer in charge of elections).
The County Recorder or officer in charge of elections may require reasonable deadlines for advance notice of appointments. Where there is no county political party officer to make the appointment, the state political party chairperson may appoint political party observers for that county. Political party observers may be appointed to specific voting locations (for Election Day observation), to a central counting place, or to multiple voting locations as authorized by the political party chairperson and the officer in charge of elections. Observers appointed to observe in multiple locations need only one appointment in writing designating the various locations where the observer is appointed. An appointment is not transferable to another individual. Unless agreed upon by the political parties, not more than one party representative for each party represented on the ballot shall be at a voting location at one time. A.R.S. § 16-590(C).
Further only one representative at any one time of each political party represented on the ballot who has been appointed by the political party chairperson shall remain within the 75-foot limit while the polls are open. A.R.S. § 16-515(A), (B), (H). Appointed political party observers need not be qualified electors in the precinct or county of observation. Except for precinct committeeman candidates, candidates appearing on the ballot or official write-in candidates shall not serve as political party observers.
The political party letter of appointment with the signature of the appointing authority (and, if required by the County Recorder or officer in charge of elections, on political party letterhead) serves as the written credential necessary to conduct observation at a voting location or central counting place. Credentials must be issued by the recognized political party chairperson or designee; this authority may not be delegated to a candidate or candidate’s agent. The political party observer must present the political party appointment letter (or copy thereof, if permitted by the County Recorder or officer in charge of elections) to the appropriate election official upon entering the voting location, County Recorder’s office, or central counting place, and be prepared to show identification if requested.
Observation at Voting Locations
Political party observers may observe the following activities at a voting location:
• Opening the voting location;
• Voting at the voting location (but may not observe in the voting booth or otherwise impede voters’ ability to maintain a secret ballot);
• Closing the voting location;
• Transport of ballots from the voting location to a receiving site (using a separate vehicle); and/or
• Any other significant voting or processing activities at the voting location provided that it does not interfere with or impede the election procedures or staff.
Each recognized political party is presumptively entitled to have no more than one political party observer at a time at each voting location. A.R.S. § 16-590(C). All political party observers are subject to removal by the County Recorder or other officer in charge of elections for failure to comply with a request to cease an activity that interferes with the election process or violates state or federal law.
Observation at Central Counting Places
Political party representatives may observe at a central counting place and at each point where ballots are handled or transferred from one election official to another, including areas where the following activities take place:
• Receiving the ballots at the County Recorder’s office or central counting place;
• Inspecting the ballots;
• Reviewing ballots by the Write-in Tally Board;
• Duplicating ballots by the Ballot Duplication Board;
• Adjudicating ballots by the Electronic Vote Adjudication Board;
• Receiving electronic media or processing voting results by the Accuracy Certification Board;
• Tabulation of ballots; and/or
• Any other significant tabulation or processing activities at a central counting place provided that it does not interfere with or impede the election procedures or staff.
The following observation guidelines govern all observers:
1. An observer may not mark any ballot, place any type of material on a ballot, or otherwise touch a voted ballot during observation. Further, an observer shall not offer to assist any voter in the process of voting at a voting location. If a voter specifically requests an observer’s assistance in voting, the observer may only assist the voter after relinquishing the observer’s formal status as an observer (for example, by returning any observer badge or identification, exiting the voting location, and then accompanying the voter into the voting location as an assistant rather than an observer). The observer may resume their role as an observer after assisting the voter.
2. Observers shall not touch or handle election materials, rosters, early ballot envelopes, provisional ballot envelopes, ballot transfer containers, voting machines, or voting machine components except as expressly permitted by the officer in charge of elections during demonstrations.
3. Observers may not interfere with or impede the election procedures or staff.
• If an observer has a question about the proceedings or seeks to raise an objection, the observer should speak solely to the designated point of contact (e.g., inspector, County Recorder, or other officer in charge of elections) and not to other poll workers or staff.
• The officer in charge of elections or inspector may prohibit observers from using electronic devices in the voting location or central counting place if doing so would interfere with or impede the election procedures or staff. No photos may be taken within the 75 foot limit of a voting location. A.R.S. § 16-515(G).
Observers may not wear, carry, or display any materials that identify or express support or opposition for a political party, political organization, or a candidate or ballot measure appearing on the ballot. A.R.S. § 16-515(F).
• In cases where multiple ballots are dropped off at a voting location, as observer may not, within the 75-foot limit: (1) inspect, copy, or photograph the early ballot envelopes in an effort to discern voters’ identities; or (2) confront, question, or photograph the individual who dropped off the early ballots.
• Observers can enter and leave a voting location or central counting place so long as their entering and leaving does not interfere with or impede the election procedures or staff.
4. Observers may take handwritten notes during observation, but must use a writing instrument of a color designated by the officer in charge of the election or procedure.
5. If an observer is asked by the inspector or other officer in charge to cease an activity that interferes with the election process, the observer must comply or face possible ejection.
6. Observers must be prepared to show their appointment credential immediately upon entering any voting location or central counting place or upon request by any election official.
7. At a central counting place, all observers must check in with the County Recorder or other officer in charge of elections prior to being admitted and may be required to log in and out of the facility each time they enter or leave.
8. At a central counting place, the County Recorder or other officer in charge of elections may ensure that observers are given identifying badges to ensure that observers are clearly identifiable.
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