Diversity and Community Engagement

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Posts Tagged ‘UM Voting Ambassadors’

UM Votes: Exploring the Role of Poll Workers

Posted on: February 11th, 2021 by elpayseu

In this blog post, OCE Voting Ambassador Libby Foley delves into the role of poll workers in making elections work. Learn about what is involved in serving as a poll worker and what these volunteers do.


If free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, then poll workers are the pillars of that foundation. In recent elections, the job of poll workers have been especially vital to maintaining the integrity of elections. However, what poll workers actually do, how they are selected, and what the requirements of being a poll worker are still a mystery to most people. This blog post will help to demystify the job of a poll worker, and explain how important they are to our democracy.

Who Can Serve as a Poll Worker

Firstly, there is a certain set of requirements that one must meet in order to apply to be a poll worker. In Mississippi, those requirements are as follows:

  • Be registered to vote in Mississippi
  • Be entitled to compensation
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a resident of the county in which you are applying to be a poll worker

An important note is that students that are 16 or older, are enrolled in high school, and have a residency in the county or municipality, may apply to be a poll worker with a recommendation from their principal. 

Application Process

If one meets these qualifications, the next step in the process of becoming a poll worker is applying. To apply, one must fill out the “poll worker portal” on the Secretary of State of Mississippi’s website, or go to the following link:

https://www.sos.ms.gov/Elections-Voting/Pages/PollWorkerPortal.aspx

After applying, and once being accepted, the next step poll workers go through is required training. There are many different duties of poll workers, and many of them are very specific, minute details that must be followed, and extensive training is required to prepare poll workers. 

Once someone has successfully completed their training, they can then work as a poll worker on election days, as long as their training was completed within the 12 months prior to the election they are serving in. In Mississippi, the compensation for poll workers is usually $75 minimum on election days, and could be more depending on the poll workers specific duties.

What Poll Workers Do

Speaking of poll workers duties, now it is time to understand what poll workers actually do. Firstly, there are several different types of poll workers. The different types of poll workers that Mississippi employs are as follows: general poll managers, receiving and returning managers, initialing managers, alternate initialing managers, and bailiffs*. 

General poll workers – According to the Mississippi Poll Manager Guide, commissioned by the Mississippi Secretary of State, the role of the general poll managers is to:

  • safeguard all election materials;
  • ensure only qualified voters are voting;
  • ensure that voters are only voting once;
  • ensuring photo IDs are valid and match the individual;
  • ensuring votes are made in secret,
  • providing voter information and instructions to those in line;
  • assisting voters with questions;
  • completing post-election reporting requirements;
  • and processing absentee ballots.

Thus, there are numerous, very important, duties that poll managers have in general that protect the integrity of an election. 

Receiving and returning poll workers – The Receiving and Returning poll manager has duties that are slightly more specific. Their duties include:

  • obtaining the box(es) for their polling place that contain the ballots and other necessary materials;
  • keeping track of the number of ballots received from the circuit clerk prior to the election;
  • ensure that the ballot boxes are not tampered with;
  • opening the boxes and distributing materials on the morning of the election;
  • sealing the boxes and machines after the election;
  • returning unused ballots to the election headquarters;
  • and processing paper ballots. 

The initialing manager – The initialing manager, who can not be the same person as the receiving and returning poll manager, has the important responsibility of placing their initials in the proper area of each blank ballot, initialing in the receipt book after a voter signs their name, and then giving the initialed blank ballot to the voter. Obviously, these duties only pertain to paper ballots. The alternate initialing manager is responsible for these duties if the initialing manager is not present or not able to perform these duties.

Bailiff – The final poll manager that the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office highlights is the bailiff. This position requires appointment by a party executive committee, election commission, or by the other poll managers. Their duty is to open the polls, keep order in line, line up voters to wait while helping the general poll managers verify identifications, prevent campaigning within 150 feet of the precinct entrance, stand at the end of the line of voters at 7pm and announce the close of the polls while still allowing those already in line to vote, and finally, check credentials of poll watchers. Thus, the bailiff’s duties deal largely with maintaining a productive environment that is free of campaigning, coercion, or voter intimidation.

These different poll workers all play an important role in preventing election tampering, and without them our elections would be chaotic, controversial, and subject to large amounts of corruption. Without poll workers following these specific duties, there can be no election. Serving as a poll worker is among the most selfless and important civic duties one can undertake, and should any of the aforementioned duties interest you, apply to be a poll worker at the following link!

https://www.sos.ms.gov/Elections-Voting/Pages/PollWorkerPortal.aspx

*For DRE/OMR counties, Opening/Closing Poll Manager is also included in their list of poll worker positions. DRE/OMR are certain types of voting equipment, and the opening/closing manager is in charge of this equipment, for the counties that utilize it.

Sources:

 


For your reference:

UM Voting Ambassadors Virtual Office Hours 10/19-10/23

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by elpayseu

Prepare to Vote in Election 2020 – National, State, and Local Elections! Our UM Voting Ambassador team is here to help you navigate the voting process, whether you are registered here in Lafayette County or in your hometown/state. We can also walk you through what you need to know for absentee voting and to prepare for in-person voting on Election Day!

No pre-registration is required. Simply click on the timeslot below to access the Zoom link for drop-in hours with our VA team.

Focus: Absentee Ballots & Notary Services (MS or Out of State)
MS Absentee Ballots now available, thru 11/3/20.

Monday, 10/19

10:00 – 11:00    VA: Maggie

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Eric

Tuesday, 10/20

8:00 – 9:00       VA: Morgan

Wednesday, 10/21

11:00 – 12:00    VA: Nick

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Clinton

 Thursday, 10/22

10:00 – 11:00   VA: Katelyn

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Libby

Friday, 10/23

4:00 – 5:00         VA: Madeleine

 


Need other assistance, have technical issues, or want to schedule a one-on-one appointment? Email us at engaged@olemiss.edu.

For your reference:

 

UM Votes: Virtual Drop In Hours 10/12 – 10/16

Posted on: October 12th, 2020 by elpayseu

Prepare to Vote in Election 2020 – National, State, and Local Elections! Our UM Voting Ambassador team is here to help you navigate the voting process, whether you are registered here in LaFayette County or in your hometown/state. We can also walk you through what you need to know for absentee voting and to prepare for in-person voting on Election Day!

No pre-registration is required. Simply click on the timeslot below to access the Zoom link for drop-in hours with our VA team.

Focus: Absentee Ballots & Notary Services (MS or Out of State)
MS Absentee Ballots now available, thru 11/3/20.

Monday, 10/12

10:00 – 11:00    VA: Maggie

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Eric

Tuesday, 10/13

8:00 – 9:00       VA: Morgan

Wednesday, 10/14

11:00 – 12:00    VA: Nick

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Clinton

 Thursday, 10/15

10:00 – 11:00   VA: Katelyn

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Libby

Friday, 10/16

4:00 – 5:00         VA: Madeleine

 


Need other assistance, have technical issues, or want to schedule a one-on-one appointment? Email us at engaged@olemiss.edu.

For your reference:

 

UM Votes: Absentee Ballots – What You Need to Know

Posted on: October 6th, 2020 by elpayseu

Once you have registered to vote, there is a good chance that either because you are not going to be in your home county on election day or because of concerns about coronavirus, you are interested in obtaining an absentee ballot. (See Elections and COVID 19 Guide Here)

In Mississippi, you have two choices for casting your ballot:

  • Vote in-person on Election Day, 11/3
  • Vote by absentee ballot, 9/21 – 11/3

In Mississippi, there are a limited number of valid reasons to get an absentee ballot. Being outside your home county because you are here at Ole Miss on election day is the main one that would apply to college students, but other reasons include being required to work during polling hours on election day or having a disability that keeps you from going to the polls. The state of Mississippi is currently among the stricter states for accepting concerns of the coronavirus as a reason to vote absentee, so that reason on its own is not enough.

View the full MS Secretary of State guide on absentee ballots here.

View absentee ballot information for other states here.

To cast absentee ballot in-person:

Yes, you can cast an absentee ballot in-person throughout the election season! This is an easy way to know your ballot has been cast and avoids any potential delays by mail.

Circuit Clerk’s Offices are open during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday).

Circuit Clerk’s Offices will also open on Saturdays during Election season:

  • 8 a.m.- noon on 10/24
  • 8 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on 10/31

To request a mail-in absentee ballot:

Contact your county circuit clerk’s office and request an absentee ballot. You will tell them your reason for voting absentee (you are a college student and away from your home county), and they will get your ballot sent to your mailing address. Make sure they have the correct mailing address!

Directory of MS Circuit Clerk’s Offices

Notarizing your mail-in absentee ballot:

Yes, you have to have your ballot notarized! The notary will certify that you are the one who has filled out your ballot before you get it sent off.

Yes, we can help you with that! – For FREE!

Email engaged@olemiss.edu to schedule an appointment to have your ballot notarized. We have several notaries that have made their services free of charge for absentee ballots this election season. Need other options? Pak Mail on campus has notaries on staff for a fee on $5 and the Oxford public library has two notaries on staff. Reach out to any of these groups to set up a time to get your ballot notarized.

Even though absentee ballots are typically returned by mail, you can also bring your ballot in person to the circuit clerk’s office to ensure a timely delivery. It is very important to make sure that your ballot is postmarked by 5:00 pm, Election Day, Tuesday, 11/3, and received within 10 days, 11/13. If you are worried about potential mail delays, you can drop the ballot off in person at your circuit clerk’s office.

Remember that if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to the voting ambassadors at engaged@olemiss.edu or call your circuit clerk’s office (in the county in which you are registered)!


Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos

For your reference:

VA Virtual Drop In Hours Schedule – 9/28-10/5

Posted on: September 28th, 2020 by elpayseu

Prepare to Vote in Election 2020 – National, State, and Local Elections! Our UM Voting Ambassador team is here to help you navigate voter registration, whether you want to register here in LaFayette County or in your hometown/state. We can also walk you through what you need to know for absentee voting and to prepare for in-person voting on Election Day!

No pre-registration is required. Simply click on the timeslot below to access the Zoom link for drop-in hours with our VA team.

Focus: Voter Registration (MS or Out of State)
MS Voter Registration Deadline is 10/5/2020.

Monday, 9/28

10:00 – 11:00    VA: Maggie

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Eric

Tuesday, 9/29

9:00 – 10:00       VA: Morgan

Wednesday, 9/30

11:00 – 12:00    VA: Nick

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Clinton

 Thursday, 10/1

10:00 – 11:00   VA: Katelyn

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Libby

Friday, 10/2 **Extended Office Hours Available**

9:00 – 11:00       VA: Jaycee

11:00 – 12:00      VA: Libby

12:00 – 1:00       VA: Sally

1:00 – 2:00          VA: Jaycee

2:00 – 3:00        VA: Delaney

3:00 – 4:00        VA: Jaycee

4:00 – 5:00         VA: Madeleine

Monday, 10/5 **Extended Office Hours Available**
**Mississippi Voter Registration Deadline – Must be turned in to Circuit Clerk’s office or postmarked by 5:00 pm on 10/5**

9:00 – 10:00

10:00 – 11:00    VA: Maggie

11:00- 1:00

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Eric

2:00 – 5:00


Need other assistance, have technical issues, or want to schedule a one-on-one appointment? Email us at engaged@olemiss.edu.

For your reference:

 

Community Chat – Kynnedi Taylor-Henry

Posted on: September 1st, 2020 by elpayseu

“Your vote is your voice.” -Kynnedi Taylor-Henry

On this episode of Community Chats, we are talking with Kynnedi Taylor-Henri with the Voting Ambassadors Program at the University of Mississippi. Kynnedi discusses her passion and excitement for voter engagement and the importance of voting to our democracy. Tune in to hear her talk about how she is working with Community Engagement to spark the same passion and excitement on our campus and in the larger community.

Kynnedi, originally from Madison, Miss., came to the University of Mississippi to pursue a degree in public policy. Realizing her enthusiasm for voter engagement, she joined the League of Women Voters, at which time the president got her involved in the Voter Engagement Roundtable series. Through that series, she collaborated with our own Dr. Anthony Siracusa and Erin Payseur-Oeth in the Division of Community Engagement to start building the Voting Ambassadors Program. “We started talking about ideas on how to get students engaged in civics and involved and passionate about voting,” Kynnedi says. Like all good things, it started as an idea and has since developed into real action.

The Voting Ambassadors Program is designed to engage young adults on campus and in the community to be informed about and active in the voting process. It helps them understand their rights and how to register to vote. They will even walk you through the process of registering or completing an absentee ballot. A text messaging system has been put in place that students can use to ask questions and receive a response in a quick and simple way. The program will also be hosting virtual debate watch parties where people with different political ideologies can come and weigh in on the upcoming presidential debates. Even with all of the helpful programs going into this, the process does not come without its challenges.

In a heavily divided political environment, it is quite common for many people, especially young adults, to be indifferent about the voting process. Kynnedi says that it is difficult to get excitement riled up about voting because so many people have been told that their vote does not matter. “The challenge comes in reminding them that their vote does matter, that their vote is their voice,” Kynnedi says, “And the best way to express their voice is through voting.” In the same way that it is a challenge to remind people of that, Kynnedi says that it is rewarding seeing the ones that do get excited go out and tell others about their excitement. Like a domino effect, that person goes out and tells their community, friends, and family about the importance of voting.

As a final message, Kynnedi says, “Voting is the best way to make your voice heard.” She points out that, while it is helpful to connect with others, social media will not make a big difference in any election. “[Voting] is what makes our democracy work, and it will further the success of our democracy,” Kynnedi says.

To get more involved, connect with UMVotes for educational material or hands-on assistance with the voting process. You can also reach out to organizations like the League of Women Voters or the Andrew Goodman Foundation for assistance. If you want to take it a step further, Kynnedi suggests contacting your local clerk’s office to become a poll worker. As many places are experiencing a shortage of poll workers, it is important for people to step up and volunteer as the election looms nearer.

As always, you can find this episode on Community Engagement’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, or on your favorite podcast player.


Download the full PDF transcript.

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