NEW: Jabour to Propose More Training for Elections Workers
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
State Senator Paul Jabour is calling for those who run polling places to receive more thorough training so they can ensure voting is handled exactly as it ought to be.
Currently, poll workers are required to attend one training session before Election Day. Senator Jabour envisions a continuing education model of training, under which all election workers are required to attend two sessions each year, even in non-election years. Those who maintain their training would be issued a certificate and would be eligible to work the polls.
Senator Jabour said he doesn’t blame those who work the polls for problems like long lines experienced at some polling places during the recent elections or previous ones. However, the fact that so many have to learn on the job how to deal with the problems they encounter does slow down the process, he said. If they were provided with more comprehensive training, they would have more of the answers at hand and would be able to respond more quickly and confidently, he said.
One of the polls in his District 5, the Providence Water Supply Board, was among the local polling places that experienced extensive waiting times of nearly two hours this Election Day, he said. In another well-publicized situation in a different part of Providence, the Juanita Sanchez polling place had waiting times of three hours for parts of the day.
Senator Jabour said he also may include provisions encouraging municipalities to break up the day into shifts for poll workers, instead of requiring each one to work from before polls open at 7 a.m. to after they close at 8 p.m. The long day may discourage many qualified people from choosing to become poll workers, and exhaustion on the part of those working doesn’t make the day run any more smoothly, he said.
“For the sake of both the voters and those who work the polls, workers should be given more professional preparation and a more reasonable workday. We’re asking a lot of those workers, and considering the importance of what they’re doing, we should be better enabling them,” he said.