Santa Barbara County high school students looking to gain insight into the election process while earning compensation can still apply to become a poll worker in the general election.
“The student gets to understand how the election and democracy work from a firsthand point of view,” county Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters Joe Holland said. “If you are going to be a student poll worker, you are probably going to vote for the rest of your life because you now have this firsthand experience.”
Election officials said the county needs 745 people, including students and nonstudents, to work the in-person polling locations in Santa Barbara County.
Poll worker positions were staffed as of Friday, but there is still a need in case of cancellations. The county is looking to fill backup and standby positions.
“We are hearing from other counties that people are dropping out, even though they originally agreed to help out,” Holland said. “We need to prepare for that contingency.”
County election officials recommend returning the application as soon as possible. Wednesday is the deadline to apply so that the county can assign a student and get a student signed up for training in advance of the first work day.
High school poll workers will earn $16 an hour.
All student poll workers must be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1 as well as from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2 and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.
A student is eligible to be a poll worker as long as they have a grade point average of 2.5 or better, is a student of good standing attending a public or private secondary educational institution, is available to work the days and times, and can attend a mandatory online training class. Additionally, students must get permission from their parents and school staff, be at least 16 years old at the time of the election, be a U.S. citizen and be a registered voter.
“If they are excited and enthusiastic about it,” Holland said, “we want them, and we typically find that students do an excellent job.”
There will be 35 in-person polling places in the county for the November general election. Each site will stay open for four days, and in-person voting begins Saturday, Oct. 31.
Poll workers will assist voters, check-in voters on a computer workstation and issue ballots, among other duties.
Election staff members will provide face masks and shields, hand sanitizer and disinfectant for poll workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will instruct poll workers on the proper use of the supplies.
Election officials have contingency plans in place if there aren’t enough workers at in-person voting locations.
“Hopefully, this won’t happen, but if we had to shut down an in-person polling location,” Holland said, “then we would direct voters to a replacement voting location.”
High school students can return the poll worker application to the Santa Barbara County Elections offices at 4440-A Calle Real in Santa Barbara or 511 E. Lakeside Pkwy. in Santa Maria.
“It’s a win-win for them,” Holland said of high school student poll workers. “They get to learn about democracy, and they get to make a little bit of money.”