Election workers were recently recognized at a West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Election workers were recently recognized at a West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Photo provided by Debbie Binder

Election workers recognized for their ‘critical role’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 10, 2023


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Election workers were recognized with a proclamation of gratitude at the June 12 West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Approximately 50 election workers attended the meeting. Township Clerk Debbie Binder read resolutions to acknowledge “their commitment to the democratic process in West Bloomfield Township.”

West Bloomfield staffs 26 precincts on election days and has an absentee ballot runner team.

According to Binder, there are 56,000 registered voters in the township and 17 polling locations.

She said that every election worker has at least two hours of training ahead of an election, with those who will be working on a computer undergoing additional training.

Binder discussed the important role that election workers play in the democratic process.

“They are the conduit between the Clerk’s Office and the voting population, so they’re really a critical role, and one of their roles is to carry out that task that they have with integrity and excellence,” she said. “Lately, as things have gotten more concerning with elections, it’s become important that they help ease the public’s mind about all of the checks and balances that are involved in elections. … They are given a task that they don’t practice routinely, and yet they have to perform it with precision and accuracy on Election Day. Training becomes paramount, and that’s a commitment that they make, to have that training to make sure on Election Day they’re ready to conduct those elections in accordance with state and federal election law.”

Depending on the size of a given election, which can range from “smaller” school district elections to federal elections, there can be anywhere from approximately 150 to 400 people helping work elections.

Election workers who work on an Election Day and go through two trainings are paid a stipend of approximately $225, according to Binder.

Those who work elections are charged with opening a given precinct, setting up equipment, greeting voters and filling out paperwork.

Each station at a polling location has a specific function that it performs, with election workers helping to ensure that the process is a smooth one.

“Depending on what station, they may be the one who hands the voter the application to complete; they may be the one who’s working at the computer alongside somebody else who’s handing out the ballot, and those two work back and forth together to make sure that the information is reported properly in the computer,” Binder said. “And then the third station reviews the appropriate directions that a voter may be given, and then they go to the voting booth to vote, and the fourth station will have election inspectors who take the secrecy sleeve back from the voter and ensure that voter’s ballot was able to go through the machine correctly. A big part of their role is to make sure nobody walks out of the precinct without putting their ballot through the machine. Typically, they’ll rotate so that one person isn’t doing one thing all day.”

Binder stated that residents who are 16 or 17 years old can work as an election inspector, and that those who are over 18 must be a Michigan elector.

She also stated that election inspectors do not need to be West Bloomfield residents.

West Bloomfield resident Cameron McClure said that he has been an election worker since 2020.

He pointed out that with absentee ballots, there is a process that takes place to make sure that the signatures of individuals match what’s on their voter registration.

“What I did not know is all the prep work that goes into sending you an absentee ballot. It’s quite involved,” McClure said.

Since taking on the role of an election worker, one of McClure’s observations has been that there are multiple checks and balances in place.

“If you really want to know what goes on, come look,” he said. “We have observers that come in — Republican, Democrat, independent, that are sitting there watching what we do.”

From McClure’s perspective, becoming familiar with the process is a good way for people to ease any concerns that they might have about the integrity of elections.

“What I’ve seen is when they’re observing what we’re doing, whatever their concern was seems to be alleviated,” he said. “Everything is tracked.”

West Bloomfield resident Mimi Markofsky has been an election worker for approximately 10 years.

“I felt that it was my civic duty,” she said. “I do work outside of the home, but I don’t work 40 hours a week, and I thought it would be a good way to give back to the community, and I certainly am involved in politics, so I thought it was a win-win.”

Although Markofsky has enjoyed her role as an election worker, one source of frustration has been people who verbalize their political opinions at polling locations.

“It’s weird to sound like I’m separating it, but we do keep politics out of precincts,” she said. “It’s nobody’s business. … So I find that frustrating, because people don’t understand that we’re trying to protect them by not giving information, but other than that, it’s a fun experience. I really enjoy it.”

Binder said that in November there will be a “small election” involving a Bloomfield Hills School District proposal, with only three precincts in the township affected by it.

“We try to use those small elections to train workers who are new, especially, so that it’s not as overwhelming,” she said. “It tends to be a little more boring of a day because it doesn’t go as quickly, but it’s a great opportunity for them to learn the process without the stress of a big election. So, these three precincts that we have in November will be staffed not totally with people who are new, but we’ll try to bring new people in so they get that experience.”

According to Binder, the township has 17 poll workers who have over 20 years of experience, and 102 who have more than 10 years of experience.

“Our best source of recruitment has been our election workers, and telling their friends and their family,” Binder said.

Binder said that “you have to staff with your best efforts to maintain a balance of parties.”

She shared the criteria to be an election worker.

“Pretty much, apply, because we’re trying to get a cross section of the community,” Binder said. “We take the ones that apply. We haven’t had to turn any away. We just have to look at where their best fit is.”

Binder, who has been a clerk for approximately seven years, discussed the importance of the role that election workers play.

“I speak on behalf of every one of my colleagues in every municipality nationwide — we could not do this job without the support and willingness to serve of our election inspectors,” she said. “We simply could not do it.”

To apply to be an election worker in West Bloomfield, call the Clerk’s Office at (248) 451-4848 or email electionworker@wbtownship.org.