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Being a poll worker shows good citizenship

As the state’s chief elections officer, I am responsible for administering a fair election where eligible voters can freely exercise their right to vote and have confidence in the accuracy of the results.

This is no simple job.

As Ohio’s elections officials are working to prepare for the 2012 Presidential Election, the political rhetoric on both sides is heating up. One side believes the law is too restrictive and that voters are being suppressed. The other side says the system is open to fraud because there aren’t enough safeguards in place.

I continue to believe that we can modernize our elections system and strike the right balance between maintaining convenience for voters and guarding against fraud.

That balance is critical and increasingly hard to achieve when the two sides are so far apart.

The place for critics is not on the sidelines, but on the field and there is one way we can put all this energy to a better, more productive use — become a poll worker.

It takes a team of more than 40,000 to staff polling places around the state, and each year all 88 county boards of elections struggle to find enough people who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to serve.

We can debate the law and voting procedures until we are blue in the face, but the truth is that those 40,000 individuals can have more of an impact on the ultimate success of our elections than the Secretary of State, lawmakers and judges combined.

To that end, I am encouraging those who truly want a fair, well-run 2012 presidential election to join me on the front lines this November by signing up to be poll workers and to encourage like-minded friends to do the same.

Serving as a poll worker, otherwise known as a precinct elections official (PEO), is both easy and rewarding. To be eligible to become a PEO a person must be at least 17 years of age and registered to vote in the county in which they plan to work; have not been convicted of a felony; and cannot be running as a candidate for the election in which they are working.

In addition to having a rewarding experience by honoring a civic duty, those who sign up to become PEOs will also be compensated for their time.

Poll workers must undergo training and work at polls on Election Day. For their time, PEOs are paid more than $100.

The Secretary of State’s office is working to help boards of elections in their recruitment efforts by raising awareness and providing print materials to boards and civic organizations.

The office has also launched an online signup at PEOinOhio.com to collect information from potential PEOs, which is then forwarded to county boards of elections. To date, more than 245 people have signed up at PEOinOhio.com to become a poll worker.

Ohio’s elections process would best be served if each of us put aside their philosophical differences and do our part to give each Ohio voter the best experience they can have at the polls this Nov. 6, 2012.


Jon Husted is Ohio’s 53rd Secretary of State.