County Elections Office Struggles to Hire Poll Workers


Election Workers at a Poll | Image by FOX 4

The Dallas County elections office is struggling to recruit enough poll workers for this year’s midterms.

When election supervisor Michael Scarpello updated the Dallas County commissioners court on the state of election preparations during a meeting on Tuesday, commissioner John Wiley Price asked for an update on staffing concerns he raised over a month ago.

Scarpello said midterm preparations are on schedule, but only slightly more than half the needed 3,000 poll workers had been confirmed: 1,565.

Poll workers include both judges and clerks. According to Scarpello, the county has confirmed 520 judges and 708 clerks, out of a total of 912 judge and 2,088 clerk positions.

Judge Clay Jenkins said those numbers make him “nervous” considering how soon voters will be casting their ballots.

“Here we are 35 days before election day, 20 days before the first day [of] early voting, and we only [have] about half of the poll workers we need,” he said.

Early voting for the midterm elections begins on October 24, while election day will be held on November 8. Scarpello said the election office will supplement the worker shortage with student clerks.

“What we’re keeping in our pocket as a supplement is our student poll workers. We’re doing really well with students this year,” he said. “I think we’ve received around 750 applications.”

Student election clerks are high school students at least 16 years old who are able to “participate in the electoral process by serving as elections clerks.”

Scarpello also presented the Dallas County commissioners with changes to the manner in which the election office allocates resources, such as poll workers, to different voting sites.

“There are some major revisions of the internal management process of how we manage poll workers,” he said. “We use analytics to determine the allocations of personnel and equipment.”

“The reason for that is we really don’t want to over-allocate, and we don’t want to under-allocate,” he said. “It’s really important to do our math homework.”

Price interrupted Scarpello, saying, “But you’re the same one who did your homework before, and we came up short.”

“We had a shortage of workers,” Scarpello replied. “It wasn’t a problem with the analytics; it was a problem with not having enough workers.”

Price disagreed, saying, “No, it was a problem with the analytics.”

Scarpello confirmed that staff are allocated based on the estimated time it will take to fill out a ballot at a particular site, which Price said is “flawed.”

Dallas County isn’t the only county in Texas struggling to recruit poll workers. In August, the entire election office staff of Fredericksburg in rural Gillespie County abruptly quit, leaving county officials scrambling to train replacements mere months before the midterm elections.

Individuals interested in assisting voters at one of the 400+ voter centers across the county can learn more about the positions available by visiting the Dallas County Elections website.

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David Salinas
David Salinas
5 months ago

I would be interested in being a pole watcher if needed in the county (Collin County) in which I live in. I am a registered voter and retired.

Rich G
Rich G
Reply to  David Salinas
5 months ago

There is a class within the next week for training pole workers for Collin Co. Call Ben Brown at (972) 363-0620 for details.