Heavy city voter turnout forecast

Board still shy of 80 positions to staff 33 polling locations

Warwick Beacon ·

Warwick voters have a history of voting, and in this presidential election year that has so many people talking about the candidates, Dottie McCarthy at the Board of Canvassers expects as many as 80 percent of the city’s 64,000 registered voters will visit the city’s 33 polls.

That’s the good news – people exercising their right to vote.

And then there’s the not so good news.

To ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible, the board needs at least an additional 80 poll supervisors. Time is running out.

McCarthy is scrambling to fill all 330 slots before Election Day, Nov. 8. She has posted flyers in city buildings and enclosed 1,000 flyers with voter letters. She’s getting responses, but needs more. Poll workers are paid $150 to $200 for the day that starts at 6 a.m. and runs to 8:30 p.m.

Poll workers must be registered voters. Applications are available at the board office in City Hall, and McCarthy said those selected would be notified by letter. Training sessions will be held Oct. 24-25 at the Buttonwoods Community Center.

There’s little doubt in McCarthy’s mind that Warwick voters will turn out in numbers. She’s already seeing that.

In the last presidential election, 1,298 cast mail ballots. So far this year, with the election still several weeks away, the board has issued 1,254 mail ballots.

“They’re coming in like you wouldn’t believe,” she said of requests for mail ballots.

And while this is all good, McCarthy recognizes that many voters aren’t happy with either of the major party candidates or others on the ballot and will exercise their right to write in a candidate.

That is not something she relishes, as those ballots can’t be machine counted.

“We could be here until 2 a.m.,” she lamented to board co-workers.

Going back to 2008, the last presidential election where an incumbent wasn’t on the ballot, McCarthy said while 64 percent of the state’s registered voters cast ballots, the number in Warwick was 74 percent. She thinks the percentage of voters will be even higher this time.

Indicating the level of interest, McCarthy said 600 have registered online in recent weeks. There have also been the calls and people stopping in the office, some wanting to know if they could vote right away. The answer is no.

As for the polls, the number of workers varies by registered voters. As an example, McCarthy said the polling location at St. Barnabas Church in Apponaug, with fewer than 600 registered voters, would be manned by three workers, whereas the poll at Heritage Fellowship Christian Church in Warwick Neck, with more than 3,000 registered voters, would have a staff of 10. Polls with larger numbers of registered voters, she said, would have a greeter whose job is to guide people to the proper line and remind them to have their license or other approved form of identification available. But the board needs the workers to ensure the process runs smoothly.

“If you’re interested in working Election Day,” she said, “you need to come in here as soon as possible.”

She said the application is easily completed and those chosen can expect to get a check (taxes won’t be withheld) when the election is history.

This story was originally posted by Warwick Beacon. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.

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