More poll workers sought for elections in Randolph

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Elections is making a push to replenish its roster of poll workers.

Melissa Kirstner, director of the Randolph County Board of Elections, has described an urgent need to secure more workers.

“We always really scramble to find people to work,.” Kirstner said. “It’s a long day, and a lot of people can’t make that commitment.”

Workers are needed for early voting days as well as Election Day.

Kirstner said more than 25 percent – and perhaps up to one-third – of the election workers have dropped off the list in Randolph County in recent years, largely beginning with the 2020 election during the pandemic.

About three dozen potential poll workers attended the county’s recruitment fair last week. Kirstner said it was the first time that the board of elections held such an event specifically focused on signing up more workers.

“We think it went very well,” Kirstner said. “We did a lot of explaining and set up a (mock election venue). We wanted to walk them through what it’s like. They might have been to the polls as voters, but seeing it from the other side, it’s a little different.”

Poll workers must be Randolph County registered voters or students age 17 and older. These are paid positions.

Kirstner said the drop in available poll workers became heightened because of concerns during the pandemic. The average age of poll workers in Randolph County has been about 67 years old, she said.

In the past, the board of elections counted on past workers continuing in those roles and word-of-month messaging to fill slots. Kirstner said it was clear in 2022 that more efforts were needed to restock those positions.

“It’s a struggle everywhere,” she said. “We’re trying to build it back.”

There are municipal elections this fall in Randolph County. For Kirstner and her staff, this is the build-up to the presidential election next year.

“We’re gearing up for 2024,” she said. “We’re trying to get ahead of the game. If we can get them in and started for this November, that will help, and they’ll get an understanding of what it’s about.”

Students at the age of 17 can serve as assistants at the polls. They need permission from parents or guardians and approval from their school principal.

There will be ongoing recruitment for poll workers in the county. The board of elections is planning to hold another fair in September at Randolph Community College.

Also, the date for the next regular business meeting for the Randolph County Board of Elections has been moved to 1 p.m. July 10. The board will consider a one-stop implementation plan (also known as early voting) for the fall’s municipal election.

By Bob Sutton