Prep work for November's general election has been ongoing at Onondaga County's Board of Elections office. One of the top priorities is getting the polling locations staffed. The county has lost about 50 percent of its election inspectors in the past few years. Now, the rush is on to recruit new ones. Our Iris St. Meran stopped by one of the training sessions to see what is needed to become one.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The general election is three months out, but training is underway for election inspectors. It's an annual process for those who decide to take on this role.
But in recent years, the number of people making that choice has dropped.
Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Ed Ryan said, "In 2008, we trained over 2,500 inspectors. And two years later we were struggling to get to 2,000."
Democratic Election Commissioner Ed Ryan says that decline is mostly due, in part, to the age of the inspectors. Many of them are in their 70s or older and have decided not to continue. Ryan, along with other commissioners, is trying to target the college-aged crowd.
The response has been good, but they want to do better. They've trained just under 1,400 inspectors so far.
The commissioner says he needs about 1,250 inspectors. If they don't reach that number, some sites may be understaffed. To accommodate that steady decline in the past, some polling sites and election districts have already been consolidated.
"Started combining poll sites,” Ryan added, “Now instead of 205 we're at 171, which will reduce the amount of inspectors we need. Elections districts was at 459, we now have that down to 422."
The training is extensive. The session is three hours and goes over everything from legal issues to absentee ballots.
"These votes get down to a handful of votes. Thousands of votes come down to five or six votes. We have to account for everyone one," said Ryan.
A tremendous responsibility, but one he hopes more people will feel compelled to do.
Election inspector is a paid position. If you're interested in training to become an election inspector, you have to take a three hour training course and pass a test.
For more information, visit www.ongov.net/elections/electionInspectors or call (315) 435-3312 and ask for Eileen or Dave.