[Image courtesy of kaydaily]
Hamilton County, Ohio has made several appearances in this blog because of allegations of registration or voting irregularities – but the latest story involves a mass firing of pollworkers for a very surprising reason. Cincinnati.com has more:
More than 100 Hamilton County poll workers got fired Thursday for failing to do the one thing that matters most on Election Day.
They didn’t vote.
The board of elections said goodbye to the 104 workers after learning they had not voted in either the 2013 or 2014 elections, despite spending most of those Election Days in a polling place, surrounded by voters and ballots.
“I’m frankly kind of shocked by the number of people on that list,” said Tim Burke, chairman of the board and leader of Hamilton County’s Democratic Party. “We want everyone to vote. If we have poll workers who don’t vote, we’re not encouraging that.”
The board reviews the performance of poll workers after every election, and voting is one of the requirements that most often trips people up. Depending on their responsibilities, poll workers are paid between $161.50 and $181.50.
The number of non-voting poll workers increased significantly this year compared to 2012, though it’s not clear exactly by how much because the board changed the way it keeps records. Two years ago, 62 workers were let go for failing to vote or for other performance issues, which means the number from 2014 is at least 68 percent higher.
The increase from 2012 is due in part to the presidential election that year, which attracted far more voters overall than the 2014 election, but elections officials say that’s no excuse. Poll workers are expected to vote.
“They don’t bother to vote and yet they work for the board of elections?” Burke said. “We’re not going to hire people who don’t vote.”
While most poll workers got the boot for failing to vote, performance issues tripped up a few more:
Four other poll workers were fired for low scores on their post-election assessment, which is based on complaints, operations reports, spot visits by trouble shooters and other criteria. In the case of those four, 10 of the 20 provisional ballots they handled were filed improperly and the electronic scanning equipment at the polling place where they worked was not turned on until 12 minutes after polls opened.
To its credit, the county doesn’t just use the threat of dismissal to inspire performance; it also offers training to poll workers who need it and looks to retain workers who can do their jobs well:
“Our system mostly works,” said Alex Triantafilou, a board member and chair of the county’s Republican Party. “Our struggle to find great poll workers is ongoing.”
Almost 600 poll workers will receive additional training because of minor mistakes, and more than 2,100 scored well on the assessment and will be retained.
Given how difficult poll work can be, it’s encouraging that so many of the county’s workers are performing up to expectations or need just a small refresher. That’s why it’s surprising that so many workers didn’t do the bare minimum and at least cast a ballot.
I’d love to hear if other jurisdictions do the same kind of post-election assessment and if it affects poll workers’ status … if nothing else, you have to hand it to Hamilton County for being willing to part ways with workers even though it’s so difficult to find them.
This feels like a story that may have some followup – as always, stay tuned.