by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
The upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 3 election is not far off and Shiawassee County Clerk Caroline Wilson and city of Owosso Clerk Amy Kirkland have both shared that election inspectors are needed. So, what is an election inspector? Think – election worker. In Michigan, election workers are called election inspectors. Not only is being an election inspector a service to the community, but it is also a paid position, though the rate of pay does vary a bit according to employment location.
The best method of becoming an election inspector is to contact your local clerk at the township or municipality where you live. Clerks are looking for individuals who enjoy working with the public, are somewhat comfortable with computers and want to give back to the community. A training process is involved in becoming an election inspector.
Inspector duties generally include greeting voters, resolving possible voter issues, issuing ballots, managing room flow, assisting voters with handicap accessibility and helping voters with ballot tabulation. On Election Day, inspectors and coordinating staff/precinct members will work the entire day from 6 a.m. until the polls close and paperwork is complete. Two 1-hour meal breaks are offered.
According to Wilson, the upcoming election will have a number of training dates. She is currently coordinating those dates and times and they will be announced. She shared that party affiliation must be identified prior to becoming an election inspector, though obviously party does not factor into Election Day duties. An election inspector must be a registered voter.
Wilson also explained that COVID-19 precautions, in compliance with the CDC, are planned and will be in place on Election Day. Gloves, masks and sanitizer will be available. Masks are not mandatory but are strongly suggested.
Other staffing positions involve lunch workers (to cover breaks/lunches), AM/PM workers (staffing a polling location either in the morning or evening) and Absent Voter Counting Board (AVCB) inspectors. AVCB inspectors work to count all absentee ballots and duties include opening AV envelopes, checking signatures, keeping an accurate tally of all ballots received/counted, tabulating ballots and other assorted tasks. AVCB inspectors are sequestered and cannot leave until the polls close.
Wilson and Kirkland have confirmed a large increase in absentee ballot applications and are expecting an increase focus in tabulating these votes.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all elections in Michigan. Clerks are encouraging voters to be patient and practice social distancing.
Some Election Day basics for in-person voters includes a prohibition on election-related clothing or materials at the polls (including buttons, fliers and stickers), a limited basis for camera use that does permit “ballot selfies” only while in the voting booth – and voter ID is required.