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Polling places lack judges

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Mary Wintzer plans to spend more time at the polls on Election Day than the few minutes it takes to vote.

Wintzer, as she has done at least eight times before, signed up to be an election judge, making sure that voting proceeds without problems when people arrive at their polling places.

"I think it’s one of the more important, easier ways someone can serve," Wintzer says.

But Summit County Clerk Sue Follett, the county’s elections officer, says, with less than two weeks until Election Day, not enough people have signed up to be judges on the West Side of the county.

She says on the West Side — encompassing Park City and the Snyderville Basin, about 25 people have agreed to be election judges. Follett says typically her office trains about 60 people each year for the West Side.

Follett reports that about 40 people agreed to be judges on the East Side of the county, enough to man the polls.

If not enough people sign up on the West Side, Follett says she may consolidate voting locations.

"If you’re interested in the process, then you’re helping democracy roll along," Follett says, adding that she hopes people sign up out of a "civic duty" and "pride."

People must be Summit County residents and registered voters to be an election judge. They must complete a training program, which teaches them about the mechanics of Election Day, including how to set up and test touch-screen voting machines.

On Election Day, the judges must follow rules barring them from talking to voters about people on the ballot or ballot measures.

"They are not allowed to talk about a single candidate inside a polling location," Follett says, adding, "They’re there to assist the people with voting."

Election judges must complete five hours of training in two sessions. They are paid $8 per hour for the training and for their time on Election Day, when they work from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Training sessions are scheduled on Oct. 26, at the Trailside Park administration building, and Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, when Follett plans sessions at the Richins Building.

The ballot on Election Day is packed but it is difficult to gauge how many people will vote. People in Summit County will decide political contests like those for the Summit County Commission, the Statehouse and Congress. Meanwhile, ballot measures like whether Summit County ditches its form of government and a $20 million open-space bond in Park City will be decided.

For more information about becoming an election judge, call Follett. From the West Side, her number is 615-3203 and from the East Side the number is 336-3203.


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