Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Secretary of State Betty Ireland has teamed up with West Virginia’s community and technical colleges to offer a new opportunity to its students and help prevent a poll worker shortage on Election Day.

Foreseeing future poll worker shortages due to an aging West Virginia population, the Secretary of State’s office will work with each community and technical college to recruit, encourage and train students to become poll workers.

“I am thrilled the community and technical colleges teamed up with our office to help alleviate the potential problem of poll worker shortages,” Ireland said. “We will be encouraging students to get involved in the political process and serve their state when their service is needed.”

The days leading up to Election Day in many counties throughout the state are very hectic because a shortage of poll workers exists. Many West Virginia poll workers are elderly and find themselves unable or unavailable to serve on the day of the election. County clerks are then charged with the duty to fill the vacancies in each precinct.

“Part of clean and fair elections is having enough people working at the polls to sufficiently serve those voting,” Ireland said. “Our program will focus on recruiting and encouraging students to be poll workers in order to give county clerks more options on the days leading up to the election.”

The staff of the Secretary of State’s office will coordinate the training with each of the community and technical colleges, and students will be issued a certificate upon completion of the training. The training will address election procedures, the responsibilities of handling ballots, and how to resolve common problems at the polls, but will not replace the training county clerks do for poll workers at election time.

“One of the goals for my administration has always been to have a well educated staff in order to provide the best customer service to our citizens – this is no different. Our customers are those who vote, and they deserve the best service we can provide.”

Students who choose to become poll workers will complete the full poll worker training course with their county clerk and, if selected, will be paid for their service on Election Day. “This is a great way for students to serve their community and make some money at the same time.”

Fairmont State will host two poll worker orientation sessions for students, faculty or staff:

Fairmont State main campus in Fairmont:
Room: Blue Room, Turley Center
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 1
Time: 6-7 p.m.

Gaston Caperton Center, Clarksburg:
Room 148
Date: Monday, Nov. 7
Time: 6-7 p.m.

Pre-registration for these sessions at Fairmont State is encouraged, and a registration form is located on the Center for Workforce Education web site.  Click here for the main site.  Those interested can also call (304) 367-4920 to pre-register.

“Fairmont State is happy to be able to assist Secretary Ireland in her efforts to alleviate poll worker shortages,” said Paul Schreffler, Director of Economic Development & Workforce Education for Fairmont State Community & Technical College.