In Minnesota, poll workers are called election judges. Election judges are paid officials who staff local polling places, carry out election procedures, and make sure that the rights of voters are protected. During a general election, there are more than 30,000 election judges who staff more than 4,100 precincts.
Serving as an election judge is a chance to learn about elections, and is a great service to the community.
RequirementsTo serve as an election judge, you must be eligible to vote in Minnesota and be able to read, write and speak English.
Training and CertificationYou must complete an election judge training course before you serve. You will attend a class at least two hours in length, and your certification is valid for two years. Renew your certification by repeating the course every two years. Local election officials must keep proof of your training on file.
Polling Place AssignmentsYou will likely be assigned to work in a precinct in or near where you live, though local election officials can ask you to serve elsewhere. With the exception of Head Judge, you may serve for all or parts of Election Day, at the discretion of the local jurisdiction.
Position Descriptions Below are the main election judge positions; some jurisdictions may use their own terminology. Some are optional (Greeter Judge), while others may be handled simultaneously by one person (Demonstration and Ballot Judge). With the exception of Head Judge, you might switch among assigned positions during the day.
Student Election Judge Trainees Students age 16 and 17 can be election judge trainees. To serve, students must be a U.S. citizen in good academic standing at a Minnesota high school (or home schooled). They must also obtain school and parental permission, and serve in the county where they reside. Trainees are paid at least two-thirds of the minimum wage. Like other judges, they do not have to serve the entire day; they cannot work past 10 p.m. Trainees are assigned the same duties as other judges, with the exception of tasks requiring party affiliation. Trainees do not designate party affiliation. Trainees must attend and complete the same training as other judges.
How do I become an election judge or election judge trainee? Contact your county election office by email or phone and ask how to apply. You can also attend your political party’s precinct caucus and request to be on a list of volunteers to be an election judge.
Township boards, city councils or county boards must appoint election judge at least 25 days before an election. In years ending in an even number, most appointments will occur about three months before the primary. If appointed, your municipal clerk or county auditor will schedule mandatory training.
Are election judges volunteer or paid? Election judges are paid. Payment is not required, and you may choose to volunteer your time. Payment rates are set by local election officials and vary across the state. More experienced judges may be paid a higher wage.
Can I get time off from work to serve as an election judge? By law, your employer must give you time off to work as an election judge. You must give your employer at least 20 days written notice and attach your hourly pay rate form.
Your employer can reduce your salary or wages by the amount you are paid as an election judge. Employers can limit the number of its workers serving as election judges to no more than 20 percent at a single work site.
You may present a copy of this letter to your employer, which explains your right to have time off from work to serve as an election judge.
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