Poll Worker FAQs

How can I get involved?
You can serve as a poll worker for the City of Boston during the November 6th 2012 State Election.

1) Register to vote in Massachusetts no later than 20 days before the state election. Information is available at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm.

2) If you are not a US citizen but speak a second language (such as – but not limited to – Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, or Portuguese), you can apply to work as an interpreter.

3) Fill out a 2012 Poll Worker Application HERE. You will receive an email confirming the receipt of your application.

What is a poll worker?
Poll workers work at polling locations on Election Day. They are the people who check voters in, who hand voters ballots, who assist voters with questions, etc. They are the “front‐line” workers of democracy who make the voting process actually happen.

How much will I earn?

The City of Boston will pay you for your service. You earn between $135 and $175 for a day’s work in Boston. You must also attend a 2‐hour training session. You will be paid $20 for your attendance.

What are the hours?

The day is long – you have to be at your polling location by 6:00 AM. You typically leave at 9:00 PM.

What address should I provide on the Boston application – my school address or the one where I am registered to vote?
Students should give both addresses. They are asked to offer a “Residential Address” (i.e. their school address) and a “Mailing Address” (their home address [or where they want their check mailed to]).

Do I have to work in Boston, or can I work in my hometown?
The University Pollworkers Project is a project that is a partnership with the City of Boston. If you wish to work as a poll worker in your hometown, you may do so, but please contact UPP for details about how to make these arrangements.

If I’m working as a poll worker all day, how do I get to vote?
You will be given time during Election Day to vote IN BOSTON. If you do not live in Boston – i.e. you live in Malden or Worcester or Somerville, etc. – you may vote via ABSENTEE BALLOT ahead of time. You will need to go to (or call) your City or Town Election Department and request an absentee ballot. You will technically be “out of the jurisdiction” on Election Day -out of town -so you may vote absentee. Be sure to call ahead of time!

Poll Worker Training Schedule: Where can I find it?

The City of Boston’s Election Department offers approximately 30 training sessions during the last two weeks of October, sometimes up until the day before the election. The trainings are scattered throughout the City. Several are held at Boston City Hall. The Election Department has not yet released its training times/locations, but that should be available soon. If they have called you to be a poll worker, you will receive this schedule via email.

Will I miss class on Election Day?

Yes. If you work as a poll worker, you are expected to work the ENTIRE DAY, 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM. You will be paid for your day of work. It is your responsibility to inform your professors that you will be absent for the day of class. UPP can provide you with a letter to your professor(s) on your behalf explaining that you are part of this important and critical project, asking that they kindly excuse you from class(es). However, you are ultimately responsible for getting permission to miss class(es).

My polling location is far away.

The Boston Election Department cannot assign every poll worker to his or her neighborhood. There is a need for qualified poll workers throughout the entire City. Your efforts are a service. You might need to travel. Your fellow students are on hand to assist you to ensure that you get to your polling location. You should make a dry run ahead of time to ensure you know how to get to your location. The last thing anyone wants is for you to be late to your location on Election Day because you could not find your location.

Do I need to attend a training?

Yes. You must attend a City-offered training to be a poll worker. In addition, Prof. Cobb is available to provide supplemental assistance if you have any questions. However, you MUST attend a two hour training provided by the Boston Election Department. You will be paid for your attendance.

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