Monday, June 9, 2008

Help Wanted

Voter registrars across the 6th District, Virginia, and indeed across the nation are hanging out the "Help Wanted" signs. Every indication is that turnout will be huge as the nation elects a president, 1/3 of the U.S. Senate, and all 435 members of the House of Representatives.
In Virginia, there are races in all House districts - in CD6, which hasn't seen a contested race in several cycles, Sam Rasoul is working hard and his signs are popping up all over the sprawling district. Although the incumbent has the advantage of name recognition, Rasoul is stealing the march on issues. Like Democrats everywhere, Rasoul must be encouraged by three Republican districts in recent special elections flipping to Democrats. 2008 will be a change election - the failures of the Bush administration, and a presidential nominee who seems to embrace all that is George Bush (while trying to keep him at arm's length - at least behind closed doors at high dollar fundraisers) - all predict a rising Democratic tide. In the Senate race,  Mark Warner seems to have a commanding lead, but his opponent's anticipated negative campaign will see feathers flying. And, for the first time since 1964 Virginia may be in play in the presidential race. Barack Obama certainly seems to think so, as he started his post-primary campaign with stops inn Bristol and Prince William.
Because of the energetic campaigns and the growing interest in this election, voter registrars are expecting the highest turnout in years, perhaps ever. To meet the demand and to assure free and fair elections with hassle-free voting experience for citizens Virginia needs 10,000 additional poll workers, a 50% increase! Interested? You must be a registered voter and contact your local registrar's office. The pay varies by locality, but is generally about $150 (plus extra for training) for the long day - in Virginia polls open at 6:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM, but poll workers can add at least an hour on each end of that - gotta get up with the chickens.
So, where to find the new poll workers? Virginia has partnered with 14 businesses to guarantee time off for employees to work at the polls. That program needs to expand beyond the urban/suburban areas. Most school divisions close on Election Day, usually because school buildings are often used as polling places creating parking and security issues. Although school is closed, many of those same school divisions schedule a teacher "workday." Teachers would make great poll workers and many would do so if the school board would grant them civil leave for the election similar to the way it is granted for jury duty. Retirees are another huge pool of potential poll workers - AARP the nation needs your members! The political parties should also recruit their activists - I know they want folks outside handing out sample ballots, but the work inside is vastly more important to our democracy. Candidates can also do their part - they have the attention of voters and should help raise awareness of the need for poll workers.
Spread the corn, err.... the word about the need for poll workers in every county and every city in Virginia. Call your local registrar and sign up. Encourage your family and friends to do their part for democracy, too.
See you at the polls on November 4. Peck. Peck.

1 comment:

JGFitzgerald said...

JMU and other state agencies offer one or two community service days per year. Full pay from work, plus about $9 an hour. The shift is more like 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. But at the end of the day you know you've done something.