Jurisdictions short on GOP polling judges Balto. County may use Democrats, independents

Campaign 1998

September 14, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Republicans may be flexing their electoral muscles statewide, but some major jurisdictions can't find enough to staff polling places for Tuesday's primary elections.

"This is the worst -- and I've been here 37 years," said Doris J. Suter, Baltimore County's election board administrator, who said she may need to use Democrats or independents to fill 70 Republican vacancies in the county's ranks of 2,400 overall.

"This is a critical situation," she said.

The story is the same in heavily Democratic Prince George's County, where officials need 75 Republican judges, out of 1,400 judges. Montgomery County officials say they need 80 to 90 judges, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, to make up the complement of 2,700.

State elections administrator Linda H. Lamone said, "I'm very confident that by Monday night we'll be in good shape."

At worst, she said, local boards are being advised that polls can open with a minimum of two judges, one from each party. Normally there are four to six judges per precinct.

Lamone said no other jurisdictions face serious problems.

Ironically, Baltimore City -- where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 3-1 -- has enough GOP judges, said elections board administrator Barbara E. Jackson.

"We use just about every Republican who walks or breathes," Jackson said, adding that she now has a full complement of 2,307 judges.

Suter and Prince George's County Administrator Robert Antonetti said higher pay for judges would help recruitment. In Baltimore County, judges get $100 for the day, plus $25 for training. Officials said fewer members of two-earner families are available to work the polls, and younger women with children can't afford to leave them home.

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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