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State Appeals for Poll Workers for February 19 Primary

February 6, 2008

Madison, WI – The state Elections Division today asked citizens to volunteer to serve at local polling places for the February 19 primary election. Tuesday’s “Super Tuesday” nationwide primary result may increase voter turnout in Wisconsin.

For the partisan Presidential Preference Primary, state officials are predicting a 35 percent voter turnout, higher than the last four such primaries. In 1988, 38.9 percent of the voting age population turned out to vote in the presidential primary.

“A smooth election depends on all our municipalities having enough poll workers to help the voters,” said Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board. “We’re asking citizens – particularly public employees who can take the day off work – to step up and help.”

Wisconsinites interested in working at a polling place on Election Day should call the clerk of the municipality where they live to volunteer. A list of all municipal clerks is available on the Government Accountability Board’s web site at

Statewide voting hours are 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. However, some municipal clerks have half-day or flexible shifts for poll workers. The rate of compensation for poll work is set by each municipality.

The duties of a poll worker can include issuing ballots to voters, registering voters, monitoring voting equipment, explaining how to mark the ballot or use the voting equipment, assisting voters with disabilities, or counting votes.

High school students who are 16 or 17 years old, have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and have permission from a parent or guardian can also serve as poll workers in Wisconsin.

“Poll workers help ensure that our elections are fair and transparent,” said Nat Robinson, state Elections Division Administrator. “They make democracy work.”

Wisconsin law requires that every employer grant leave to non-essential employees who wish to serve as poll workers, as long as the employees provide seven days notice. The municipal clerk can confirm an employee’s assignment as a poll worker.

State of Wisconsin employees may work as poll workers with a paid leave of absence, according to state law, as long they give the same notice to the employer. In addition, they are guaranteed not to lose fringe benefits or seniority privileges. Many local governments make the same allowance for employees to serve on Election Day.

However, public employees who serve as poll workers cannot receive both their daily salary and compensation from the municipality where they serve as a poll worker.