Arundel seeks poll judges

September 07, 2006|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN NEWS REPORTER

Anne Arundel County officials are scrambling to fill 100 election judge vacancies with less than a week before Tuesday's primaries.

Barbara L. Fisher, director for the county Board of Elections, said that dropouts over the past week prompted her to issue a public plea for help from county employees and others. She expressed worry about long lines at the polls and potential confusion caused by the lack of staff. She said the impact could be felt countywide.

The county relies on between 1,800 and 1,900 election judges to serve nearly 190 voting precincts.

"There is nothing we can't do," Fisher said of the projected shortage. "If we don't fill a polling place, they will have to do the best they can."

Fisher estimated that many of the county's election judges are in their 60s, and they are dropping out because they are intimidated by the electronic voting machines. She also said the pay - $140 for a chief judge and $110 for check-in judges, for a 15-hour day - is not attracting younger residents.

The county faced a similar predicament in 2004, but county employees helped to fill the shortage after County Executive Janet S. Owens allowed for those workers to participate without having to use leave. That policy remains in effect for this election period, Fisher said.

The Board of Elections is offering a one-hour crash course this week for those interested in working the polls, Fisher said. Those interested in serving as an election judge should call 410-222-6600.

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