County seeks election judges

Will Briggs
Friday, February 25, 2022

“The county and the country need you to do this civic duty,” said Janel Tucek, Fergus County Clerk and Recorder and Election Administrator.

With the June 7 primary elections for national, state, and local positions fast approaching, Tucek is looking for election judges to help ensure Fergus County voters can make their voices heard at the ballot box. To become an election judge, a person must be a registered voter in Fergus County, cannot be a candidate for election or related to a candidate, and cannot push an agenda while at the polling place.

“We’re in this for a fair election,” Tucek said. 

They must also attend a training session. Tucek’s office is holding three of those trainings in March. They will be held Monday, March 28 at 3 p.m., Tuesday, March 29 at 5:30 p.m., and Thursday, March 31 at 10 a.m.

“People only need to come to one, though,” Tucek said.

By law, county clerks must complete certification for all election judges across a given county every two years. This certification is designed to ensure everyone who assists with election administration knows and follows all the rules and procedures involved with casting and counting votes.

“The certification process falls on even years, so we need to get people trained this year,” Tucek explained.

The need for election judges is particularly urgent considering the number of people required to work in-person polling places.

 “With a mail election, we can usually get by with only six or seven judges,” said Tucek, “but we’ll need about 10 times that number to staff all the polling sites.”

For the June 7 primary, between 45 and 55 election judges are needed to handle the 11 voting precincts at the Trade Center at the Fergus County Fairgrounds, with three election judges to be placed at each of the county’s five rural voting precincts.

Tucek says, if nothing else, that attending one of the training sessions to be offered in late March will help attendees understand the voting process in Fergus County.

“Just come to the training and see if it’s something you want to do,” Tucek said. “An election isn’t just a one month event. It’s a year-long process and you can see how it works for yourself.”

Getting involved

There are a number of roles prospective election judges can perform. Greeters, for instance, point voters toward the precinct they should be voting in. Once a voter has gone toward their proper precinct, a register judge verifies their eligibility to cast a vote by checking their identification. Once the voter’s eligibility has been verified, a ballot judge will hand them a ballot, provide instructions about how to cast it, and can assist the voter if they have any questions. 

Polling place managers, meanwhile, ensure that a voting site is running smoothly and can jump in and help election judges with any issues that may arise. Election judges handle the provisional ballot table, while control count judges at the county courthouse separate mail-in ballots from the secrecy envelope and run them through the tabulating machine.

“[Deputy Clerk and Recorder] Abbey Craig and I verify a voter’s signatures on the external affidavit envelope beforehand and separate out the secrecy envelopes for the  control count judges, so nobody knows who’s ballot is whose,” Tucek explained.

If selected, election judges are paid for their time working the polls, mileage traveling to the polls, and even for their time at the training session. Those interested in serving as an election judge can call or email the Fergus County Clerk and Recorder’s office, or stop in at the courthouse to sign up for a training session. Once trained, an election judge can work any election that takes place during the two-year window.

“We want more people than we need to run the election,” Tucek said.