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Work This Election: Be a part of democracy in motion through temporary jobs and volunteer opportunities

Want to be part of the team that helps put on one of the largest democratic processes in the world? You can.

Politics is in the air as we draw closer to this November’s presidential election. As the candidates work to win votes by Nov. 6, election offices around the country are looking for citizens to work for them to safeguard the voting process to select the next president.

Openings and jobs vary not just from state to state, but from county to county. Websites such as list more than 1,200 openings, everything from senior management to warehouse workers. If you narrow your search by your state and county, you’ll likely find there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to the democratic process this election season.

In El Paso County, Colo., home to five military bases, there’s a wide range of openings for citizens who want to get involved, said Alissa Vander Veen, chief deputy and communication manager for El Paso County.

“For us, it’s a lot of data entry, entering all of those voter registrations that come in, mail-in ballot applications, ensuring people’s information is accurate and correct and making sure people can get a ballot,” she said. “While it may be sort of mundane data entry, it’s really important.”

They also need help setting up polling places, delivering equipment to those locations and testing equipment to ensure it’s up and running so people can cast their votes.

“A lot of times it’s helpful when it’s the citizens from the community that come in and do that, because that’s the check of the election,” Vander Veen said. “We say we (county officials) facilitate the election, the citizens of El Paso County run the election.”

Every state and county is different, but pay in El Paso County ranges from about $10 to $13 per hour. Those jobs typically last from mid-August to mid-November, Vander Veen said. But there are some jobs that are specific to Election Day, such as manning polling sites and serving as election judges. There must be one election judge from each party, Vander Veen said.

“Their party affiliation and those kinds of things are how we make sure the process works,” she said. “We just never want to give anybody an opportunity to give one party an edge over another.”

Other than election judges, personal politics are not a part of the process for the election staff, Vander Veen said.

“You’re just people, and you’re counting people’s ballots,” she said. “Some of us here have come from a very political background, and all that matters when we’re sitting in this office is that the election comes off flawlessly and every ballot is counted, and you do the right thing for that voter, because that’s your priority.”

Some positions require training. In Colorado, you must be registered to vote to be a part of the local election process.

“If you’re going to be working in the election, you’ve got to have a stake in it,” Vander Veen said. “Every state is different, but one of the Colorado requirements is that you’re a registered voter in the state of Colorado. Our office has taken a more proactive stance in encouraging the military to register, recognizing that not everyone has passed through Texas or some place they have the option of not registering.”

You also can volunteer. Bring in your resume, and they’ll find a way for you to contribute, Vander Veen said. Although a volunteer spot may not turn into a job in the election office itself, it may lead you to other openings within the county government, she said.

“Temp positions have absolutely turned into jobs,” Vander Veen said. “A lot of times it turns into jobs in Motor Vehicle or Recording, or other departments. They are people we look at first when we’re looking to hire people.”

Apart from potential employment, you’re also becoming a part of something much bigger, Vander Veen said.

“I think with all of these jobs just comes a huge feeling of being a part of democracy and making sure that it works,” she said. “There’s a lot of pride and civic responsibility that goes into any type of job with elections.”


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