The goal of training is to ensure poll workers are prepared to correctly perform their duties on Election Day to best serve the voters. Training sessions aim to help poll workers retain as much information as possible for later use on Election Day. Studies have shown that poll workers – like all adult learners – learn best during short, interactive training sessions and hands-on instruction.
Trainers should be aware that poll workers' needs for instruction will differ and, where possible, trainers should provide learning opportunities to meet all poll workers' needs. Keep in mind the amount of information the poll workers need to learn and the limited time elections officials have to convey that information to their poll workers.
A flipbook format can be used to consolidate information such as detailed step-by-step instructions for opening and closing polls, and “what to do if…” scenarios. Tabbed flip pages make finding information easy and reduce the risk that poll workers will misplace various sheets of paper.
Online poll worker training courses can be used effectively to supplement hands-on instruction, but not to replace it. If possible, training and reference materials should be made available in both online and hard copy formats.
Even experienced poll workers can learn from take-home videos or other media, especially if changes or additions to past practices are highlighted in the training materials. Training videos that show poll workers dealing with voters with disabilities can provide a greater understanding of how people with disabilities actually use voting equipment.
A take-home or online self-testing process may be used to evaluate how effective poll worker training efforts have been. This approach enables poll workers to assess their skills, helps identify people who may no longer be able to perform the job adequately, and highlights training that need to be improved.
Counties should provide a centralized telephone hotline for poll workers who need assistance with any issue that comes up on Election Day, including questions about voter languages other than English, voting equipment, how to assist a voter who is not on the voter list, etc. Each polling place needs access to a telephone so poll workers and voters can make these calls. It is the county elections official’s responsibility to ensure that all poll workers have some form of communication link to the county elections office on Election Day.
Poll workers should be reminded that if any emergency arises at a polling place, they should contact the county elections office immediately. Poll workers should be instructed to call local law enforcement first if they believe the safety of anyone is in jeopardy.
Poll workers should be given printed cards that include phone numbers and other contact information (in English and in the jurisdiction’s other languages as required by the Voting Rights Act), to give to voters who need more information than the poll workers can provide.
Counties should broaden and/or continue their poll worker recruitment efforts to ensure a representative group diverse in age, ethnicity, disabilities, and language fluency.
Roving polling place inspectors should have an evaluation tool (such as a checklist) to ensure every polling place is following the rules regarding voting including, but not limited to, providing assistance to voters with disabilities or language challenges and properly using secrecy sleeves and provisional ballots.
Counties should establish methods and/or improve existing methods for reviewing poll workers' performance and their own performance. Poll workers should be evaluated based on key duties with the goal of continuous improvement, while the county may learn how to improve its training methods or how it can reallocate the best workers to busier precincts and troubleshooter duties.
County elections officials may also want to establish ways for poll workers to provide feedback on additional topics that should be covered in future training, based on their Election Day experiences.