Ionia County Clerk Seeking Election Day Volunteers
Portland’s Noreen Logel is Ionia County’s only Certified Election Trainer
Greg Geiger, Ionia County Clerk, is hoping to recruit up to 75 volunteers to assist Precinct Supervisors on Election Day. Volunteers perform a variety of duties from diligently verifying and documenting every voter who casts a ballot to scanning absentee ballots into the vote counting machines.
“This is projected to be a high turnout general election”, Geiger told the Beacon. “We had 13,276 primary voters in August which was up over 13% from 2018, when we had 11,693 Primary voters, and up over 60% from 8,179 Primary voters in 2016. In the recent August Primary, 51% of the ballots were absentee. There may be more absentee ballots in the general election. So, we are going to need more help at the polls on November 3rd, to have timely reporting”.
Volunteers are actually paid an hourly rate, in an amount that is established by the local city or township clerk. Volunteers are placed and supervised at Precincts throughout the County on Election Day. “Prior to being assigned all volunteers are screened and trained. They are sworn in and take an oath to faithfully perform their assignment.”
Noreen Logel, a lifelong Portland resident, worked for the State of Michigan for 37 years until her retirement in 2011. She is the only “Certified Election Trainer” in Ionia County. Logel has fourteen years’ experience working as a volunteer at local elections, including eight years as Chairperson of Portland’s Election Board. “Noreen has developed an excellent training curriculum for the County that almost 300 people have taken in the last two years. Her training is so excellent that volunteers from other counties have been sent to take it”, Geiger reported.
Logel shared with the Beacon that, “the training is less than a half-day, but is very intensive.” All trainees receive an election day handbook/guidebook that Logel wrote after extensive research. It addresses just about every possible issue that could occur. Currently two trainings are scheduled for early October by the County Clerk, who pre-screens all applicants who are interested in volunteering, but more trainings will likely be added. Logel regards election poll work as a great privilege and a serious responsibility. “On election day our volunteers are non-partisan. Volunteers cannot talk politics. They cannot attempt to sway a person’s vote in any way. They must be totally professional and neutral. Precinct supervisors are very diligent and enforce these behaviors if necessary. Most volunteers understand this and there are rarely issues with these expectations.”
Covid-19 has put added pressure on election volunteers this year. “Every Volunteer must social distance and wear a mask”, Logel said. “If you cannot wear a mask, you cannot work the polls on election day.”
Logel continued, “volunteer poll workers have to be diligent and able to pay attention to detail.” There are several roles that volunteers perform on election day and they must be carefully matched to the volunteer. “The happiest person is usually the greeter”, Nogel said with a little laugh, “Not everyone can pull that off”. Another volunteer manages the electronic poll book, then another volunteer gives ballot completion instructions and then another volunteer collects ballot tab from the voter. Volunteers rotate stations throughout the day. Volunteers also enter absentee ballots into the vote counting machines.
People interested in volunteering as an election worker in Ionia County must be at least 16 years old, apply at the County Clerk’s office (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616-527-5322), and once screened complete Logel’s training. Geiger said, “We are ready to take applications for additional volunteers immediately”.