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An election official, election officer, election judge, election clerk, or poll worker is an official responsible for the proper and orderly voting at polling stations. Depending on the country or jurisdiction, election officials may be identified as members of a political party or non-partisan. They are generally volunteers or paid a small stipend for their work. Each polling station is staffed with multiple officials. The duties include signing in registered voters, explaining voting procedure and use of voting equipment, providing ballots, and monitoring the conduct of the election. In US states with Election Day voter registration, they also register unregistered voters on election day. In most other countries, however, voters do not need to register, all citizens being automatically included in the lists of eligible voters. Depending on the jurisdiction, election officials are chosen by a board of elections, county official (such as the county clerk or county auditor), city or township official (such as a city clerk), the federal state, or a national committee.
In California, poll workers can be any citizen who requests the job at least two months prior to an election. Inspectors and site supervisors receive a minimum of two training classes, and clerks are required to attend a training class within two weeks of the election, with additional certification classes for any machine or technological devices to be used. These classes cover a wide range of topics, including opening and closing of the polls, which color pen to use on which paper, dealing with irate voters, and the rare times when a voter can be challenged.
In 41 of the 50 United States, high school students can serve as student election judges. Each state has its own set of requirements for students to serve as poll workers, but generally, students must be in good academic standing at their school and meet the particular age or grade conditions.
- Elections Office of Minneapolis, Minnesota - Page describing the duties of an election judge
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