CHICAGO (CBS) — Tuesday marks eight weeks until the Illinois primary, and Chicago has been scrambling to find workers to man the polls.
We are short more than 3,000 election judges. And on Tuesday, CBS 2’s Lauren Victory took us inside the process to become one.
Inside the mall at Block 37, prospective election judges hold what look like giant iPads and examine retro-looking controllers with colorful plastic buttons, as they learn about shiny new printers from Danny Sanders.
Sanders is not trying to sell the technology. He is an assistant election judge, and is prepping people you’ll see at the polls on March 17.
Chicago needs 11,000 workers to do classroom and hands-on training before the primary. They will staff the city’s 2,069 precincts – a number greater than the number of precincts in the whole state of Iowa.
“Some friends of mine did it a previous year, and they told me about the experience and how much fun that they had, so I wanted to try it for myself,” said first-time poll worker Nichele Williams.
If not for fun or civic fulfillment, consider that being an election judge pays $230 to $255.
Judges and coordinators will also work with some of the newest equipment on the market. Jim Allen of the Chicago Board of Elections used a fake ballot to demonstrate some innovative troubleshooting features.
Once a ballot is approved, a printer spits out a paper version that a judge initials. The ballot is then fed into a bigger machine that scans the image before casting the vote.
The price tag for the technology is $18 million – with only one touch screen available per precinct. But the argument is that the digital system cuts down on disenfranchisement, because it offers the ability to zoom and vote in different languages.
Based on feedback, Sanders thinks the new equipment will also decrease human error.
Several counties in our area are also looking to hire election judges. For more information on being an election judge, click here.