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County seek poll workers for 2008 primary

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Starting Thursday, the county will begin the search for new faces to work at the polls in the 2008 primary election on Feb. 5.

On Oct. 18, at 10 a.m., Clayton County will launch a series of training sessions, at the Morrow Municipal Complex, for individuals interested in aiding the political process.

Other sessions will be Saturday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m., at the County Administration Building; Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m., at the County Administration Building; and on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., at Riverdale City Hall.

During the training, individuals will learn, through interactive discussion and creative skits, the ins and outs of working as a poll officer -- what to do and what not to do on the job, how to deal with the public, and the laws of voting.

"Poll workers assist this office in making the election process a pleasant experience for Clayton County voters," said Annie Bright, director of the Clayton County Board of Elections. "The closer we get to the election, the less time we have to train them."

Bright said the duties for poll workers vary and produce a need for managers, assistant managers, greeters, identification clerks, express poll clerks, and exit clerks. Trainees are taught several jobs, so they can switch responsibilities.

"Everybody that gets trained is not called," said Bright. However, it is important to have substitutes, in case someone else is unable to work.

The minimum age requirement for polling station workers is 16, and those selected will be paid a flat rate of $115 per day.

Clement Smiley, of Riverdale, began working the polls six years ago and will conduct some of the training sessions this year. He believes that being a poll worker is a way of fulfilling his civic obligations.

"I believe everybody has an obligation to vote and the process needs to be less painful as possible," said Smiley. "For the most part, we're tasked to make sure that the person coming in to vote is registered, has proper credentials, and is who they say they are."

Smiley, who has lived in Massachusetts and California, and was a poll worker in those states, said Clayton County's training is very extensive.

"They were very thorough and went through a lot of possible scenarios," Smiley said, such as what to do if a person attempts voter fraud or passes campaign materials while in line to vote.

"The skits kind of bring it home," he added. "They made sure that you were aware of the laws."

For more information about the training sessions, contact the Clayton County Board of Elections at (770) 477-3372.