Promote Democracy: Serve as a Poll Worker
Before each statewide election, thousands of Californians sign up to help put on the single most important event we hold in a democracy. County elections officials depend on reliable, dedicated teams of poll workers to make every Election Day run smoothly.
Who can be a poll worker?
To serve as a poll worker you must be:
- A United States citizen or legal permanent resident;
- An eligible high school student
What does a poll worker do?
- Sets up and closes a polling place
- Helps voters understand their rights
- Protects ballots and voting equipment
Why be a poll worker?
- Get involved and assist voters
- Contribute to your community
- Earn extra money (amount varies by county)
How do you apply?
Visit pollworker.sos.ca.gov to complete the poll worker application. It only takes 2-3 minutes!
High School Poll Workers
California Elections Code section 12302 allows eligible high school students to serve as poll workers on Election Day. Student poll workers learn firsthand how elections are run, and provide much needed support at polling place locations. They end their day with a better understanding of the importance of voting and the vital role poll workers play in making our elections run smoothly.
County elections officials may assign up to five high school students to serve as poll workers in each election precinct. Students work under the direct supervision of appointed adult poll workers.
What does it take to be a high school poll worker?
To serve as a high school poll worker, a student must:
- A United States citizen or legal permanent resident
- Be at least 16 years old on Election Day
- Attend a public or private high school
- Have at least a 2.5 grade point average
- Get permission from your parents and school
- Attend a training session
In addition to learning firsthand how elections are run, student poll workers can be paid a stipend that generally ranges between $65 and $150, depending on the county.
For more information about becoming a high school poll worker, please contact your county elections official.
To encourage high school students to serve as poll workers, the Secretary of State invites students, teachers, school activities directors and others to post, email or hand out the High School Poll Worker recruitment flyer.
Government Code section 19844.7, allows state employees to take time off, without loss of pay, to serve as poll workers on Election Day.
- Employee shall be eligible for both regular state compensation and the fee paid by the Registrar of Voters for serving as a poll worker.
- Eligibility of a state employee to serve at the polls is subject to approval by the employee's manager or supervisor.
- Employee seeking release time to work at the polls shall provide sufficient notice to allow the department to maintain adequate coverage and meet operational needs.
- Verification of service as a poll worker on Election Day may be required by the appointing authority by requiring the employee to provide written verification of service from the Registrar of Voters, including the name of the employee serving and the date of the election.
For more information, please contact your county elections official.
Poll Worker Training Standards
Elections Code section 12309.5, requires the Secretary of State to adopt uniform poll worker training standards. These revised standards reflect lessons learned and changes in state law that have taken effect since the original standards were published in 2006.
Bilingual Poll Worker Recruitment
In 2017 the California State Legislature passed the California Voting for All Act. This legislation updated the language service requirements for county elections officials and established a new reporting process directing the California Secretary of State to collect data related to the recruitment of bilingual poll workers from county officials.
In response, the California Secretary of State conducted a survey of county elections officials regarding their recruitment of bilingual poll workers for the November 6, 2018, General Election. This report provides information and analysis of the data collected in the survey. The responses from each county have also been posted.