Election workers needed in Washoe County

Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 3:52 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Last May, the Nevada Secretary of State fulfilled a major campaign promise.

“The fact that we have ten out of 17 new clerks in our counties, we need to ensure that they understand they are going to be protected in the job they have,” said Secretary Cisco Aguilar. “And we also need to recruit new workers in the sector. And in order to do that, people want to come and work in a place that is safe.”

Those comments came just after the Secretary of State’s major piece of legislation this past session was signed into law by the governor.

The law makes it a felony to threaten or harass an elections worker in Nevada. But intimidation wasn’t the only reason we saw a mass exodus of election workers state statewide and right here in Washoe County.

“What I have heard the most is they want a better work life balance right?” says Jamie Rodriguez, Washoe County’s Registrar of Voters. “The time that it takes to put together an election, the time now that we have to take to conduct an election and run the election and process. Everything is significantly longer than what it was. So, what we’ve heard is the amount of time they have to work is too much. They are just burned out.”

Rodriguez says she is starting with an entirely new staff since the 2022 election.

While her office has taken a hit with experience and institutional knowledge, she says with the new election laws, and mail in balloting, those experienced election workers learn right along with the beginners.

This will be her first presidential election as registrar as it will be for her staff. They’ll get their first taste of what that is all about in February when the state conducts its Presidential Preference Primary. Nevada will be the third state in the country in primary season.

Rodriguez says because it is a presidential year, they plan on a 40% increase in voter registrations.

With early voting, same day registration, and mail in voting, they will have an all-out call for election workers to come forward. Some of those will be paid positions. Workers can start small if they choose.

“We have supply runners that go out to locations, that is a really pivotal role,” says Rodriguez. “Ballot runners is another big one, right? Somebody has to go over, we have bi-partisan teams that collect ballots from each of the vote centers.” Rodriguez says new training materials and techniques hope to make the job understandable and less confusing.

The Registrar’s office hopes to attract more than 300 elections workers for the Presidential Preference Primary. Some workers will come from a temp agency. It’s hoped they feel comfortable and confident enough to stay for the state primary in June. and then the presidential elections in November.

For more information on becoming an elections worker: https://www.washoecounty.gov/voters/get-involved/index.php