Changes at Washington County elections office; seeking students for election boards

July 21, 2014
It seems that one of the few things that hadn’t been moved last week at the Washington County elections office was director Larry Spahr’s print of Mark Twain. - Barbara S. Miller / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Those who visit the Washington County elections office in coming days will find a renovation in progress as the second-floor fixture at the Courthouse Square building adds some vertical storage.

Although there are usually only two election days each calendar year – the spring primary and the November general – preparation and record-keeping is a year-round task without which smoothly functioning polls would be impossible.

A window was added to the room where absentee and military ballots are tabulated during the day or days after an election. In close races, all eyes are on the narrow space because these ballots can make a difference in the outcome. Shelves also are being added to both the elections office and adjacent conference room.

Wes Parry, assistant director of the Washington County Board of Elections, said he hopes the renovations will be completed by mid-August. The last day to register to vote in the November election is Monday, Oct. 6, but registration and requests for absentee ballots, due Oct. 28 for most voters, can be submitted earlier.

Parry also has prepared a brochure for high schools and colleges that seeks recruits for local election boards.

“I had lunch with school superintendents back in May and presented this idea,” Parry said Monday. “It’s a struggle to make sure all precincts are manned. Some are running with three people when there should be five.”

To promote the initiative among the student body, Parry said each school needs an in-house contact.

Although the brochure is called, “Volunteer to be a Poll Worker,” the elections office does not expect students (or adults, for that matter) to serve without compensation. Poll workers receive a $10 stipend for attending training along with a mileage reimbursement if travel is necessary. Pay for election day is dependent upon the position held and duties performed. It can range from $80 to $100 for the day.

Students who are interested in filling in as election board clerks must be at least 17 years old. To fill other positions, one must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter. Students must have transportation to and from the polling place, and have no disciplinary problems at school. Students will not be officially appointed until five days before an election, and if an election board member fails to show up at the polls, he or she should be on-call during the morning of election day, Nov. 4, and able to travel, if necessary.

Intake of voters in Washington County became a little more technologically advanced with the introduction of electronic poll books. “There are some board members who say, ‘So-and-so does poll book because I don’t know anything about computers and I don’t want to.’ Young people, you show them the e-poll book, and it’s intuitive for them,” Parry said.

Parry is willing to customize a brochure for any school with the name of a contact person. He asked those who are interested to call him at the elections office, 724-228-6750, or email him at

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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