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Sonoma County seeks more than 300 poll workers for 2020 presidential primary

The Sonoma County Registrar of Voters is seeking about 300 more paid volunteers to staff polls for the March 3, 2020, presidential primary election, officials said Tuesday.

The office has 700 volunteers so far, and needs both English and bilingual poll workers, said Wendy Hudson, the chief deputy registrar of voters. Sonoma County residents can volunteer to be either an inspector or clerk.

Typically, each polling location has one inspector who runs the precinct, Hudson said. Inspectors open and close their location. Clerks, meanwhile, assist the voters by distributing ballots and guiding them to voting booths, while keeping track of those who show up to vote. Each polling location has between three and four clerks.

When polls close at 8 p.m., volunteers count the number of ballots at their location and bring them to the Registrar of Voters’ office, where election officials tabulate the results.

“It gives them a behind-the-scenes look at how elections work,” Hudson said of the volunteers. “It gives them the opportunity to serve their community.”

To help recruit poll workers, the Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday an increase in the daily stipend for volunteers. The pay for inspectors increased from $125 to $175, while the pay for clerks increased from $100 to $125.

Bilingual workers will also now be paid an additional premium of $25. Bilingual poll workers must be fluent in English and one of the following languages: Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Khmer.

“It’s important because our stipend hasn’t increased in many years,” Hudson said of the pay raise. “It’s a very long day. The processes become more complicated every year. ... We need to encourage more people to participate.”

Volunteers must be citizens who are registered to vote in California, legal permanent residents or high school students who are at least 16 years old with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and who have received permission from their parents and school principal. Experience is not required, as volunteers will undergo training.

Nearly 280,000 voters have registered in the county so far, Hudson said. The Registrar of Voters will begin mailing ballots to vote-by-mail voters Feb. 3.

You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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