Earlier this week, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver put out a call for poll workers for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election (Aug. 16 was “Help America Vote Day”). “Working at the polls means you are on the frontlines of our democracy, assisting the voters in your community and learning first-hand how New Mexico conducts free and fair elections,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “There’s no better way to learn about the voting process and I urge all willing and able New Mexicans to consider working the polls in their county for the General Election this November.”
The Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office also put out a call for workers earlier this month for election workers to help out with early voting at the clerk’s office and Voting Convenience Centers, as well as for temporary workers to work as messengers; at the elections help desk; and at Absentee Board workers. Election workers are required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
SFR discussed election work opportunities for residents (these are paid positions) with Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark, who says the county has a variety of needs. “Election duties have expanded so much,” Clark said, “we need more than just those who work the polls.” Those jobs include helping in advance of the election by answering questions at the clerk’s office and work on post-election duties such as canvassing. Experience not required, she said. “We really do like first timers,” she said. “You may not be thrown in the deep end and become a presiding judge…but we can always use beginners.”
While Santa Fe County has not experienced the level of election-worker harassment Toulouse Oliver has reported at the state level, Clark says her office will likely provide both de-escalation and active shooting training for poll workers. “We have not seen any…bodily threats or anything like that,” she said, although one poll worker had reported “an overly enthusiastic challenger followed her car far too close.” Nonetheless, “we take safety very seriously,” she said and noted she will be instituting emergency response plans for all polling places. “In Santa Fe County…we’ve seen…aggressive behavior, but…we haven’t seen the bomb threats that we’ve seen in other counties. We haven’t seen, you know, death threats and things like that. I think…poll workers feel fairly secure that we’re taking…this behavior very seriously and have plans in place that are safe.”
To apply for election work, fill out an online application here. Positions also are available for under-18 student poll workers (with parents’ permission). Clark also notes that because Santa Fe County has “overwhelming” Democratic registration (63.4%), the office needs folks from other major parties, as well as minor parties and Independent voters “ to ensure “party balance” at polling locations. “It’s a great way to serve your community,” Clark says. “Democracy doesn’t happen if we don’t have the bodies to make sure that there are many eyes on the democratic process and making sure it’s transparent.”