On the Importance of Poll Workers

Shelby Fleshood

Poll workers are the unsung heroes of free and fair elections. Without them, there would be no way to safely and accurately carry out the democratic elections that preserve liberty in the state of Nevada.

Every election cycle the call goes out to poll workers across the state, but how exactly do poll workers help preserve the integrity of our elections?

Most poll workers are volunteers who give up their time to help make elections possible and work throughout election season in both the primary and general elections. Poll-workers must have no relation to any candidate involved in the election and are expected to attend special training prior to working. This training informs them of the various policies and procedures necessary to carry out an election, as well as how to prevent any potential fraud from occurring during election day. Poll-workers are trained to remain vigilant so that voters can rest easy and know that the votes are being counted fairly.

Over the course of the early voting period and election day, poll workers carry out a variety of tasks that are important to keeping the election process above board. Their day begins early in the morning, often at 6 a.m. or earlier, as they prepare polling places for elections. Voting booths must be set up and ballots prepared for distribution.

Throughout the day, poll workers are responsible for ensuring that no one is left alone with ballots, along with their eventual transportation to the courthouse for counting. Every volunteer is trained in every task that must be carried out in an election, with few exceptions.

Many polling locations suffer from staff shortages so there are rarely opportunities for volunteers to rest. Election day often lasts 14 hours or more for poll workers as they are the first to arrive in the morning and last to leave in the evening.

Throughout the day, poll workers are constantly on the move as they assist citizens in exercising their right to vote. Any questions on how to vote and what procedures must be followed are answered by the volunteers. Poll workers are responsible for making sure all perspective voters are properly registered to vote on election day and for helping anyone who wish to update their registration on the day of the election. This registration process includes a careful inspection of the voter’s identification to ensure they are who they claim to be.

The right to vote with privacy is ensured by the constant observation of the poll workers who not only set up the privacy booths, but also make sure no one is loitering on the premises. Polling locations have a strict media policy that bans video recording and sets precise guidelines on the distance between materials from current candidates and polling locations.

It is the right of ever Nevadan to vote without intimidation or undue influence, and poll workers are essential to upholding that right. By carefully observing the behavior of voters as they come and go, poll workers are constantly monitoring the security of the polling location.

Poll workers are responsible for more than just supervising the voters; they are also there to keep tabs on each other. In a democratic system, it is essential to have checks on those in power, and those who supervise our elections wield a great deal of power. Poll workers are intimately familiar with what happens at their polling locations, including the actions and behaviors of their fellow volunteers. Election workers are given a great deal of responsibility and that could tempt the unscrupulous to unduly influence an outcome, further underscoring the importance of poll workers.

In order to become a poll worker here in Nevada, you must be at least 18 years of age on election day and registered to vote in the district where you will be volunteering. Your term as a poll worker lasts from the day before the election until any contested counts are completed with compensation varying by county. No felon, family member of a candidate, or candidate is allowed to serve as an election poll worker.

At even the most local levels of our elections, we find individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to ensure that our state continues to function effectively. The consistent work of those volunteers every year is how we can have faith that the legitimacy of our elections is upheld.

Shelby Fleshood

Shelby Fleshood

Transparency Director for Nevada Policy Research Institute

Shelby Fleshood is the Transparency Director for Nevada Policy Research Institute and has a passion for helping ensure his generation maintains the freedoms that make our nation great. Growing up in Florida, Shelby was often surprised in high school to see that the liberties that were so common in Florida, were not always prevalent in other parts of the country. This sparked a passion for activism that would last the rest of his life.

Shelby first became involved with Nevada Policy in the summer of 2020 as a Development Intern, working to help Nevada Policy navigate the changes brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic. He spent that summer collaborating with his fellow interns on new fundraising projects to help ensure Nevada Policy was not crippled by the lockdowns caused by the virus.

In 2021, Shelby graduated from Florida State University after studying History and Economics. He supervises, guides and helps TransparentNevada.com, TransparentCalifornia.com, and their activist communities. Shelby also works with Nevada’s Open Records Coalition and open records activists to ensure that everyone has the ability to see all government records and documents. After all, government is supposed to work for us!