What are some accommodations for poll workers?

What are the positions at a polling place?

There are four different positions that help conduct elections at a polling place.

  1. A poll worker, or election inspector, is someone who conducts duties at a polling place on Election Day. The poll worker can issue ballots to registered voters, registering voters, monitor the voting equipment, explain how to mark the ballot or use the voting equipment, and count votes. There are typically 3 to 7 election inspectors at a polling place with 1 chief inspector. There must always be an odd number of election inspectors.
  2. Each polling place is allowed up to one greeter. The greeter assists with answering questions and directing voters to the voting area. A greeter may become an election inspector on election day if there is an even number of poll workers to maintain an odd number.
  3. The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners may assign an election registration official (ERO) to a polling place to register voters. EROs do not count toward the number of election inspectors at a polling place.
  4. Lastly, the governing body or board of election commissioners of a municipality may pass a resolution to employ tabulators in an election. Tabulators assist at the polling place after it closes.

What are the essential functions of becoming a poll worker?

Under Wis. Stat. s. 7.30(2), election inspectors must be able to read and write the English language, be capable, and be of good understanding. However, there are many different duties that an individual can conduct at the polling place that do not require the ability to read or write the English language. These could include being a greeter, monitoring the voting equipment, or issuing ballots to registered voters.

How do I get an accommodation to become a poll worker?

Under ADA, all poll workers, including greeters and tabulators, are entitled to receive a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job if the accommodation does not create an undue hardship to the employer.  Therefore, many municipalities may be able to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals to become a poll worker. However, not every position may be able to be performed by every individual, so a reasonable accommodation could be reassignment to a different position.

To get a reasonable accommodation, contact your municipal clerk. You may also contact the Wisconsin Elections Commission with any questions.

What are examples of accommodations that are generally reasonable at a polling place?

  • Assignment to be a greeter.
  • Assignment to a specific task.
  • Providing a translator.
  • Providing an aid to assist with assigned tasks.
  • Providing extra breaks.
  • Allowing flexible work hours.
  • Providing equipment to improve accessibility, such as a chair or magnifying glass.

 

An accommodation would not be reasonable if the individual is unable to perform the essential functions of the job or if the accommodation causes undue hardship for the municipality. These determinations are decided by each municipality, but the Wisconsin Elections Commission can work with a clerk to identify accommodation options or eliminate barriers to providing an accommodation.

What if all three election inspectors represent the same political party?

If a municipality has only three election inspectors available to work at an election, and all represent the same political party, does it matter during a nonpartisan election?

The type of election is not the issue.  If lists of election inspector nominees are provided by the county parties, and appointments are made with regard to political affiliation, one of the inspectors will have to agree to represent the other party at that election.

What is the procedure for reducing the number of election inspectors?

Any municipality may, by resolution, reduce the number of election officials to no less than three.  S. 7.32, Wis. Stats.  Rather than create a resolution prior to each election, a resolution may be worded so that the municipal clerk is able to make the decision with respect to number of inspectors to be used at a particular election.  S. 7.32, Wis. Stats.

Remember:  If a polling place utilizes only three inspectors, and one inspector must leave the voting area, voting stops until the inspector returns.  The clerk may want to provide for an alternate who can replace inspectors for lunch or other breaks.  A municipal ordinance that provides for the use of alternate inspectors is required.  S. 7.30(1), Wis. Stats.  2/11/2003

How do state employees become poll workers?

Wisconsin Statutes provide that state employees appointed by a municipal clerk to serve as election officials must be granted leave without loss of pay or benefits for the entire 24-hour period of each election day in which the employee is serving as an election official. Employees must provide at least seven days notice of the need for leave.

State employees may certify to the municipality that they choose not to be paid as poll workers.  Alternatively, those state employees who receive pay as election officials must certify in writing to the (state) payroll office the amount of compensation received. The agency must deduct that amount from the employee’s pay earned for scheduled work hours during the 24-hour period of the election day.

State employees who “volunteer” but are not appointed to be poll workers must take vacation or leave without pay if authorized by supervisory staff.
 

Can I be excused from my regular job to be a poll worker?

Wisconsin law requires every employer to grant an unpaid leave of absence to each employee who is appointed to serve as an election official, if the employee who serves as an election official provides his or her employer with at least seven days' notice.  The leave is for the entire 24-hour period of each election day in which the employee serves in his or her official capacity as an election official.   Upon request of any employer municipal clerks must verify appointments.

What are the specific qualifications to be an Election Inspector (poll worker)?

To be an election inspector (poll worker), a person must:

  • Be a qualified elector of the county in which the polling place is established  (i.e., an adult citizen of the United States who has resided in the election district for 28 consecutive days and is not otherwise disqualified to vote);
  • Be able to speak, read, and write fluently in the English language;
  • Have strong clerical skills;
  • Be able to solve problems;
  • Be an effective communicator; and
  • NOT be a candidate for any office to be voted on at the polling place at that election.

Where will I be assigned as an Election Inspector?

In smaller municipalities, there is often only one polling place.  However, in larger municipalities there are multiple polling places. In larger municipalities, every effort is made to assign a poll worker to their neighborhood voting site.  However, poll workers in larger municipalities such as large cities must be willing to be flexible and consider assignments at other sites.

 

What are the Training Requirements for Election Inspectors?

Municipal clerks are required by state law to provide training. This training provides all of the necessary information and knowledge to be a successful poll worker.  (Many municipalities require poll workers to attend a comprehensive training course prior to each Primary election.)  

An experienced chief inspector who has been certified by the State Elections Board must be present at each polling place for each election.   Chief inspectors must receive six hours of continuing election education training during each two-year period.