Poll Worker Resources
In the midst of a global pandemic, Georgia faces a massive shortage of poll workers, especially in our most populous counties and city centers. Our state needs more Georgians to serve as poll workers. To become a poll worker, one must meet four requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Be a resident or employee of the county in which you would like to be a poll worker (with one exception, see the footnote below)1
- Be able to read, write, and speak the English language
To learn more about the requirements to become a poll worker, please watch this video from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
Outside of these requirements, counties are especially interested in poll workers who encompass the following:
- Younger Georgians who are at lower risk of COVID-19 complications
- Lawyers committed to understanding the ins and outs of election law and administration
- Tech-savvy individuals to help keep the electronic voter machines up and running
- Passionate people who care about improving the state of democracy
What to know before election day
Follow up with your county if you have not heard back from them within a week. This is to ensure that you have been placed as a poll worker. Double-checking is an important step to make sure everything is in order and nothing was lost in the shuffle. Click here for specific county poll worker information.
In order to work as a poll worker in your county, you must first complete mandatory poll worker training!
It’s important to note that some counties provide this training virtually while others require the training in-person. Please contact your local county’s elections office or look at their website to figure out how your county completes their training.
- Training session times vary depending on position and county. Typically, Clerks/Monitors training sessions run 1 to 2 hours, and Manager/Assistant Manager and Check-in clerk training run 3 to 4 hours.
Tip: Block out a bit more time than the session is expected to run, in order to account for unexpected delays
What to wear/bring
Poll worker attire guidelines vary by county, but best practice is to dress business casual with no political material/slogans visible. If you are unsure of how you should dress, reach out to your poll manager for clarification.
Poll workers should prepare for a long day of service, wearing well fitting, comfortable clothing/shoes and bringing along everything they will need for the day. Some useful items to bring are:
- Lunch and dinner + snacks
- Sweater or jacket in case the polling location is cold
- It is helpful to dress in layers as polling precinct temperatures can vary by location and season
- Small activities to keep busy in slow/low turnout locations (confirm what you can bring with your Poll Manager)
All items and materials brought by poll workers must not interfere with their duties, and poll managers/counties will give guidance as to which items workers should not bring. These items may include:
- Games/activities that may be more difficult to put away quickly
- Electronic games
- Card games
- Board games
- Clothes/items with campaign material
- Pants/shirts with holes, fading
- Some counties may have specific rules about attire (I.e. Dekalb County does not allow poll workers to wear jeans)
IMPORTANT: As always, the best practice is to contact the poll manager regarding specific do’s and don’ts for each polling location
Before setting up polling equipment, officials must ensure that all setup is done in full view of the public, and doors may not be locked at any time to exclude a member of the public from viewing proceedings.
Equipment must be set up and actions recorded while adhering to the following procedures:
- One poll official reads the instructions
- One poll official follows the instructions as read
- One poll official records the necessary information on the forms
Some counties may have a Monday set-up in which the layout of the precinct is determined and some of the equipment is set-up (but not turned on). Other counties may have all equipment set-up on election morning. Refer to your county’s practices.
The following is a list of tasks that are completed during set-up:
- The layout of the precinct is created using tables and chairs
- Voting area posters and signs are hung up
- Supplies are verified as present at the polling location
- Designated equipment is set-up
- Emergency contact information of poll officials is collected*
*This task can vary by county but is completed in Fulton and Dekalb
Details of each step are provided next:
Opening your precinct
On election day, several tasks need to be completed before the polls are opened at 7:00 a.m.* Most counties will require you to be present anytime between 5:30am-6:00am to get the precinct set up.
* The set-up steps listed above may also be completed on election morning.
Before any election-related tasks can be completed, all poll officers must be sworn in by stating the oath and signing a printed version:
- Assistant Manager swears in Manager
- After this, Manager swears in Assistant Manager(s) and other staff members
- Oaths are signed and placed in the corresponding envelope
Each official is then assigned a name badge, which must be worn throughout the day
The primary method by which precincts in Georgia process voters is the Poll Pad. The Poll Pad contains a database of all registered voters in the county and important information that corresponds with these voters.
It’s important to note that the database is downloaded into the Poll Pads, so anyone that wasn’t registered in time for the Election would be listed on the Supplemental Voters List. This list should be kept at the Poll Pad Check-in Station at all time and referenced if an individual isn’t showing up in the Poll Pad but are at their correct precinct.
To process a voter on Election Day using the Poll Pad’s “Scan Barcode” option, poll workers should do the following:
To process a voter on Election Day using the Poll Pad’s “Manual Entry” option, poll workers should do the following:
If both the “Scan Barcode” option and the “Manual Entry” options are unsuccessful in finding the voter, poll workers should refer to these instructions in working the “Advanced Search” feature and let the Poll Manager know in case there is another issue that requires a call to the county elections office.
When Card Cannot Be Created Successfully
When a card cannot be created successfully, there are several potential reasons. Make sure to let the Poll Manager know anytime an issue like this arises. The potential issues are as follows:
1. Absentee Issued: If the Poll Pad displays “Absentee Issued,” the voter has either requested an Absentee ballot by mail or voted in person during Advanced in-Person Voting. If the voter claims to have not requested an absentee ballot, they should be provided with the name and contact information of a person in the county office who can assist them
a. If the voter has requested a ballot by mail and has the ballot on-site, confirm that the ballot is in the envelope and mark canceled on the envelope. Next, remove the absentee status from the record and continue through the voter certificate process and encode a voter card.
- The physical ballot brought in by the voter should be turned in on Election Night to the county office registrar
- If time allows, contact the county office and inform them of the surrendered ballot
b. If the voter has requested a ballot by mail and does not have the ballot with them on-site, confirm with the county office whether or not the ballot has been received back or not.
- In the event that it has been received, the ballot is considered “cast,” and inform the voter that their vote has been processed, directing any further questions to the relevant official at the county office who can assist them.
- In the event that the ballot has not yet been received by the county office and the voter would like to vote in person, the voter should be directed to fill out the form provided by the county office to cancel their Absentee by Mail ballot. Once completed, remove the absentee status from the record and continue with the voter certificate process and create a voter card.
2. Absentee Received: If the Poll Pad displays “Absentee Received,” the voter’s vote has already been cast.
a. If the voter affirms that they have returned and mailed an absentee ballot, inform them that their vote has been cast and thank them for voting
b. If the voter claims that they did not vote absentee by mailing in their vote or using a drop box, direct them to the Provisional Ballot Station
- The county registrar will research the issue during the Provisional Ballot review period
3. Advance In-Person: If the Poll Pad displays “Advance In-Person,” then the system reflects that the voter voted in-person during the advanced voting period. Poll workers should ask the voter if they have voted in the last few weeks
a. If they answer yes, then explain that they have already voted in this election and thank them for their vote. If they have any further questions, direct them to an official at the county office who can help.
b. If they answer no, contact the county office for more information, and direct the voter to the Provisional Ballot station
- The county registrar will research the issue during the Provisional Ballot review period
After encoding their voter card, voters will head to the Ballot Marking Device (BMD) to cast their vote, following this process:
- 1. Insert their card into the touchscreen
- Select candidates for each race
- Review ballot selections
- Print ballo
- Take the printed ballot and voter card to the Polling Place Scanner station
Polling Place Scanner
*A poll official should always be positioned at the scanner
- Voter is reminded to review their ballot
- Voter will return their voter card and submit their printed ballot into the scanner
- Voter receives “Georgia Voter” sticker and is thanked for voting
A voter should be directed to the provisional ballot station in the event that their eligibility to cast a vote in a precinct on Election Day is in question. Provisional ballots may be needed in a number of situations and correspond with unique provisional ballot “codes,” which should be identified and listed on all of the provisional ballot materials that are filled out for the voter.
OP – Out of Precinct
- If a person is registered to vote in another precinct, they should be informed and given the option to cast a provisional ballot or go to their correct precinct. Provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct will only be counted after 5 P.M. and before the polls close on Election Day
PR – Person believing to have registered to vote but is not appearing on the electors list
- If a person believes that they are registered to vote, but their name is not appearing on the Poll Pad, supplemental list, or paper back up list, then they should be instructed to fill out a provisional ballot
PI – Registered voter who does not have valid ID at time of voting
- If the voter does not have a valid form of photo ID at the time of voting, the voter may be issued a provisional ballot. The voter should be instructed that the ballot will be counted only if the voter provides the proper identification to the county registrar’s office no later than 3 days after the election, primary, or runoff
IR – Voter who registered for first time by mail but did not provide required ID when appearing to vote. These voters can provide additional forms to provide proof of ID.
- If a voter who registered for the first time in Georgia by mail and does not supply the proper identification, they will be listed as an IDR voter on the Electors List. If the voter cannot supply the appropriate identification the voter must be issued a Provisional Ballot. Please note that an IDR voter is allowed to show other forms of identification in addition to the listed forms of photo ID.
EH – Voter who is casting a ballot during extended poll hours as a result of a court order
- This is a special scenario in which a federal race is extended at a polling location by court order. When this is the case, all ballots cast during the extended hours should use a provisional ballot
X – Person who registered to vote for the first time in Georgia but citizenship is not verified
- If the elector is flagged on the electors list as a potential noncitizen and they do not provide valid proof of citizenship, they should be instructed to fill out a provisional ballot (consult with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office or local county office on valid proof of citizenship)
V – Person who did not provide missing information to complete application
- In the event that the elector is pending due to incomplete voter registration, they should be instructed to fill out a provisional ballot
CHAL – Challenged
- In the event that an elector has been challenged and shows up to vote before a challenge hearing or decision, the elector should be directed to fill out a provisional ballot
Issuing a Provisional Ballot
1. The voter should first complete the Provisional (salmon-colored) section of the paper, the Voter Certificate and if required, a Provisional Voter Registration Application
- Ask the voter to provide proper photo ID (unless the reason for filling out the provisional ballot is due to a lack of ID)
- Initials at the indicated space
2. Confirm that the forms are complete
3. Complete the outer Provisional Envelope
- Print voter’s name
- Precinct number and ballot style number
- Date and name of election
- Note appropriate provisional code (as discussed above)
4. Write the voter’s name on the Provisional Numbered List of Voters, record the time of voting, mark the appropriate provisional code, and mark ballot style in the appropriate column.
5. Record the ballot number on the voter certificate and initial as issued.
6. Hand the voter the ballot and both Official Provisional Ballot Envelopes. Instruct the voter to go to the Provisional Ballot Booth to vote by filling in the ovals next to the candidate or answer of their choice. When finished voting, the voter will fold and insert the ballot into the inner Provisional Ballot Envelope and seal. The inner envelope will then be inserted into the larger salmon-colored envelope and seal. The voter will then insert the ballot in the Provisional Ballot Container
7. After the voter has cast their provisional ballot, poll workers should provide the voter with written contact information so they can monitor the status of their ballot. If a federal candidate is on the ballot, the contact information provided to the voter must include a free access system, such as a toll-free telephone number or an internet website.
8. After 5 P.M., any provisional ballots used for out-of-precinct voting must be bound together for review by the Election Superintendent
9. Place all used provisional ballots in the Provisional Ballot Container and be sure to place the Numbered List of Provisional Voters, Provisional Ballot Affidavits, and Provisional Recap Sheet in the proper envelopes
Please make sure to also review the Provisional Ballot training information you receive from your county, in case of any updates to the process of how to issue a Provisional Ballot to voters.
Issuing a Challenged Ballot
If the voter is completing a provisional ballot because of their status as a challenged voter, the following changes are implemented to the normal provisional ballot process
1. Verify that the voter has completed the voter certificate and the Provisional Voter Section on the back of the certificate
2. Correctly notate both the Provisional Section of the Voter’s Certificate and the Official Provisional Ballot with the necessary information
3. Issue the correct optical scan ballot for the voter’s District Combo. Detach the ballot from the pad, leaving the stub attached to the pad. Give the voter the following instructions:
- “Take the ballot to the voting booth. Vote your ballot by filling in the ovals next to the candidate or question of your choice”
- “Fold your ballot to fit into the white envelope”
- “Put your ballot into the smaller white envelope and seal it. Put that envelope into the larger salmon envelope and seal it.”
4. While the voter is voting:
- Write the ballot stub number on the Voter’s Certificate and initial as issued
- On the Numbered List of Provisional Voters record the voter’s name, the provisional code of CHAL, the District Combo
- Place the Voter’s Certificate in the provisional binder
5. When finished voting, the voter drops the sealed salmon ballot envelope into a secure ballot container or bag
6. Hand the voter the written instructions about the challenged ballot process
7. Hand the Voter an “I’m a Georgia Voter I SECURED MY VOTE” sticker and thank them for voting
Voters with Disabilities and Voter Assistance
Accommodating voters with disabilities and those that require assistance is a crucial role of all election officials. Before entering the polling location, directional signs indicating the entrances and special handicapped parking are designed to simplify the process of getting to the ballot as much as possible, so it is essential that these are properly set up. Should they choose, voters are entitled to assistance if they:
- Are unable to read the English language and/or
- Have a disability which renders them unable to:
- See or mark the ballot OR
- Operate the voting machine OR
- Entering the voting compartment/booth without assistance
Notice of the availability of assistance must be visibly posted at the polling place
“A physically disabled or illiterate elector may receive assistance in preparing his or her ballot from”…. any person of the elector’s choice EXCEPT
- Elector’s employer or agent of employer
- Officer or agent of Elector’s union
- Candidate on the ballot or family member of the candidate
- Exception if disabled/illiterate elector is related to candidate
- Poll workers should follow the nonverbal cues of an elector with hearing or speech disabilities and identify the best method of communication (i.e. speaking, gestures, written)
- Poll workers should remember to be patient remain respectful throughout the entire interaction, taking time to accommodate the elector as best they can and giving them full attention
- In the event of misunderstandings, poll workers should rephrase, rather than repeat, questions to the elector
- Poll workers should not touch or handle a voter’s wheelchair or other accessibility equipment without prior consent
Voters Aged 75+ OR Disabled
- On Election Day between 9:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M., voters who are aged 75 and older or disabled and require assistance voting, are allowed to vote immediately at the next available voting booth without waiting in line
- If notified as a poll worker, you must fulfill this request
Printed Ballot Review
- The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office recommends an area set up with magnifying screens/glasses to assist voters in reviewing forms and their ballots in print
Closing the Polls
The Georgia Poll Worker Manual provides the following rules and guidelines for closing the polls:
- At 7:00 PM, the Poll Manager publicly declares, “The poll is closed.” Any voters in line at 7:00 PM must be allowed to vote. Position a Poll Officer at the end of the line to ensure that anyone arriving after 7:00 PM is NOT allowed to vote. Poll hours could be extended upon court order. Your County Office will notify your Poll Manager if this occurs.
- All duties must be performed in full view of the public. Potential voters may watch but are not allowed to enter the enclosed space or interfere when preparations for opening the polls are in progress.
- At no time are the doors to the polling place to be locked so as to exclude any member of the public from viewing the pre-election preparation, conduct of the election, or the closeout procedures.
The following is a checklist of closing steps to be completed for the Poll Pads adapted from the Georgia Poll Worker Manual:
- Record voter check-in information on Poll Pad Recap
- Power off Poll Pad
- Remove ID tray from back of Poll Pad, return ID tray and stylus to case
- Unplug Poll Pad
- Return Poll Pad and USB power brick to case
- Remove encoder from Poll Pad and return to case
- Remove Poll Pad stand/arm from base
- Return base to case
- Verify the numbers on the Poll Pad and case match
- Return Poll Pad to case
- Record information on the summary report from one Poll Pad
Here is a step-by-step picture guideline to complete the steps to close the Poll Pads: