Two-day training for election officials?

I just picked up the local paper and saw an article about a two-day course that our local election officials were required to attend. Two days? We don’t have electronic voting machines here. We use paper ballots. I can see a couple of hours discussing acceptable forms of ID and how much time to allow the turkeys who don’t think about their ballot until after they’re in the voting booth, but two days?

Okay–this isn’t a rant, it’s a question. If there are any election officials reading this thread, what does the job entail that requires two days of training? Is there more to it than just checking IDs, pointing people at the booth, and putting the correct part of the ballot into the box after they vote?

Again, we’re not using computerized or electronic voting machines here. It’s paper ballots.

Just a suggestion: You could call the Montana Secretary of State’s office and ask Elaine Graveley–apparently it’s her program.

Article sez it’s a **three-**day program, so as long as you have Elaine on the line, ask her, for me, what day-full of activities they’re leaving out… :smiley:

Elaine Graveley’s office and phone, about halfway down.

My experience:

We have a optical scan reader system in my county. I had 2.5 hours of training before I worked the primary, plus I was handed a book covering what I needed to know. The training felt inadequate to me, but I knew I would be working under inspectors who had done this for years, which gave me some reassurance. I feel, in retrospect, we mishandled some things and I sorely wish everyone had been given substantially more training. I assume there is a reluctance to pay for it.

Covering basic procedure took very little time. Covering all the weird things that might come up was what took the bulk of the class. Thanks to the machines, we didn’t have to worry too much about figuring out weird ballots because it was built into the logic. The machine would also spit out problem ballots and the voter had an immediate opportunity to redo or clarify. However, we also processed absentee ballots. If an absentee ballot is too damaged for the machine, it has to be redone, and the inspector redoing it has to be sure that the redone ballot is voted the way the voter wanted it. They’re not around to ask, so you’ve got some rules for the humans to apply as to what scribbles count as votes and which don’t. We had to cover that. I bring this up because of the hand-count issue (more on that later).

I will have an additional five hours of training before this general election, mainly because I agreed to co-chair my precinct. I know we will be focusing on using the provisional ballot, and doing some mock-election-day run throughs.

My thoughts on the two-day/three-day class:

I’ll bet the pollworkers are going to be expected to COUNT the ballots. Someone’s gotta do it, I assume they are not just going to deliver the boxes to the county clerk and expect one office to do it all. So, if they were to be counted by hand, I certainly do see the need for extensive training.

You want to be sure that every vote-counter is going to go by the same rules when it comes to overvoting, undervoting, other questions about voter intent. You want to be sure every ballot would be counted the same way, every time, no matter who was counting it. You’d want to teach the concepts and then you’d want them to practice and you’d want to test them on it. That could pretty easily run to two days.

The training was for election OFFICIALS. Those are the county people who have to count the ballots. There were a lot changes in the federal laws about provisional ballots, challenged ballots, the need for acceptable identification, the rules changed about how close to the polling place people could hand out information supporting or opposing, etc. I can understand that they had two days of training - it’s pretty complicated and you cannot get it wrong.

I worked as an election JUDGE. We are the people who sign you in, give you your ballot and take the ballot. Our training was about two hours and our manual is 10 pages.

It felt good to help out the election process. And I highly urge people to become an election judge - at 42 I was the youngest judge by about 20-30 years. Somebody’s got to do it.


Whoops, I missed this in the post from Crankyasanoldman.

‘I’ll bet the pollworkers are going to be expected to COUNT the ballots. Someone’s gotta do it, I assume they are not just going to deliver the boxes to the county clerk and expect one office to do it all. So, if they were to be counted by hand, I certainly do see the need for extensive training.’
Actually, the poll workers in Montana don’t count the ballots, county staff do. The ballots are run through a scanner. One of the two “scandals” in our county was that they had election officials (wearing bright red vests that said “ELECTION OFFICIAL”) pick up ballot boxes throughout the day so that the county staff didn’t have to count all of them after the polls closed. Apparently, this was a new procedure because one election judge was qouted in the paper saying that the only reason he let them leave with the ballots was because the election officials were accompanied by a deputy sherriff. :smack:

I helped take the ballot boxes from our polling place to the county office (like I was going to let a 75 year old lady carry those large metal boxes?) and it was quite clear that we were not needed after the ballot boxes were checked in.


The other “scandal”? (This one didn’t make the paper.) Some of the poll WATCHERS had homemade cinamon rolls delivered. But they didn’t share!

The little old ladies (and myself) always bring treats for the other election judges in our precinct and share with the poll watcher.

Sheesh, I thought this was the easiest part, except for ballot jams. This can be done it such a way that it’s pretty much the voter who scans it–the machine grabs it from the security sleeve and blammo, it’s done. The election worker would just be just standing by in case the machine is persnickety, or gives an error message about something on the ballot the voter may wish to correct. That’s something that’s lost if you don’t scan them on the spot. By the time you know about the error, the voter is long gone and untraceable.

We’d have been better off with the two days of training, but got by with a lot less, and did all the things the Montana people were expected to do (and more). If they have the budget for it, more power to 'em.