7/27/2008 9:15:00 PM Secretary of State's office recruiting
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Jeremy Mangen, 17, of Queen Creek, and Josiah Rasmussen, 23, of Phoenix, walk up and down the Prescott Gateway Mall Saturday afternoon trying to recruit people to become paid poll workers for the upcoming elections in September and November.
PRESCOTT - With the Secretary of State's office preparing to set up more than 2,200 polling places across Arizona for this fall's elections, the state has already started proactively recruiting more than 14,000 volunteers.
On Saturday, Secretary of State Jan Brewer's Poll Worker Recruitment Team visited Yavapai County in hopes of attracting willing participants here.
From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., five team members split up and spread out near the guest services desk at Prescott's Gateway Mall to tell Arizona residents how they could get paid to work the polls for the primary election Sept. 2 and for the general election Nov. 4.
The team either received firm commitments from people or distributed short application cards to those who were interested, asking for their names, physical addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Those who registered received free pens and a red handbag.
From there, the unit will pass on the individuals' personal information to the county, which determines who is eligible to participate.
An eligible worker must be at least 16 years old, a United States citizen, and available to work either one or both of the elections.
Saturday's event was part of Brewer's new statewide effort to enroll and train poll workers.
The secretary's office expects voter turnout in Arizona will be as high as 80 percent this year, meaning more than 2 million of the state's 2.7 million registered voters are likely to hand in ballots.
Brewer will need seven workers per precinct across the state to accommodate the load.
The trouble is that the average poll worker in Arizona is in his or her early 70s, and a portion of this population is getting too old to volunteer.
Essentially, Brewer wants more young people, including adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, to aid in the effort.
Lydia Cheney, an 18-year-old incoming freshman at Yavapai College who hails from Paulden, is one of those coveted younger folks who signed up Saturday.
"I heard that it was a small job you could do to help out with the polls," Cheney said. "Since electing is very important I figured, why not only vote but also help out with that?"
Brewer began the outreach program July 19 at Arrowhead Town Center in Glendale, where 108 people registered to work. Her team was seeking another 100 registered volunteers this past weekend.
The state pays poll workers anywhere from $85 to $125 for each election, although they are required to attend one paid day of training beforehand.
Brewer needs individuals to do four basic duties, including ensuring that voting equipment is in proper working order, checking voters' identification, issuing ballots and helping disabled or handicapped voters.
"Within the last few years, there's also been a lot of upgrades to the technology in the voter machines, so you need to be a little savvy to work with that equipment," said Jennifer Catapano, an account executive whom the state contracted to help execute its recruitment campaign.
With its Prescott stop in the books, the recruitment team will now travel to Tucson's Park Place Mall Aug. 16, Scottsdale's Fashion Square Mall Sept. 13, Phoenix's Metro Center Mall Sept. 20, Gilbert's San Tan Village Oct. 2, and the Arizona State Fair Oct. 10 to Nov. 2 in Phoenix.
During each event, certain members of the team walk these venues with monitors on their backs that show a 30-second promotion. Others have monitors with a keypad attached to their wrists to register people directly.
The digital content on the monitors educates Arizonans about the responsibilities and qualifications for becoming a poll worker.
On Saturday, Josiah Rasmussen, a 23-year-old team member who attends Scottsdale Community College, calmly approached mall patrons as they walked past him.
"Some people are interested in the 'getting paid' part, and some people are into the 'helping democracy' part," he said. "I'm really excited that I'm helping to fill polling places with the people the state needs."
Team members also provide mall patrons with specifics about the job and can instantly gather personal information from those interested.
"I like talking to people and giving them an opportunity to get some money, help out with the State of Arizona and be patriotic," said recruitment team member Jeremy Mangen, 17.
To sign up to become a poll worker, or to learn more about what the qualifications and responsibilities are, call the Secretary of State's office toll free at 1-877-843-8683, or log on to the Internet at www.azsos.gov.