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The people responded to the call for poll workers

In Harris County, bigtime.

Muhammed Nasrullah was ready to call it quits. After working as an election judge in every Harris County contest since 2004, the COVID-19 pandemic discouraged the 67-year-old retired mechanical engineer from signing up again.

He is in a high-risk age group, and he knew friends who had contracted the virus. Then he began to read news stories about a nationwide shortage of poll workers during the pandemic. And he was worried that delays in the U.S. Postal Service have undermined the public’s trust in mail ballots.

In such a consequential election Nov. 3, with record turnout expected in Harris County, Nasrullah decided he would serve again.

“I convinced myself that the election is so important that I’m willing to take the risk,” he said. “I feel like I’m doing my civic duty, and it’s a good feeling.”

He is one of 11,000 poll workers Harris County Clerk Christopher Hollins hopes to recruit this year, twice as many as in 2016. Hollins’ ambitious $27.2 million election plan includes nearly tripling the number of early voting sites and an 8 percent increase in poll locations on Election Day. He needs an army of poll workers to staff them.

The clerk’s office in August launched an aggressive social media campaign to recruit workers, and Hollins recorded a commercial.

By this week, 29,000 applications had arrived.

Rachelle Obakozuwa, polling locations and recruitment manager for the clerk’s office, attributed part of the increased interest to many residents believing the November presidential election is especially important.

“And for another, people really need work because of COVID and a lot of layoffs,” Obakozuwa said. “We’re seeing both equally.”

Pay was also a factor – poll workers are receiving $17 per hour for their work, nearly double the $9 per hour they got in 2016. Decent pay for meaningful work, who knew that would be attractive to so many? They – and we – can thank Diane Trautman for upping their pay.

Fuentes is one of more than 100 student clerks Harris County recruited from Houston-area schools. As they often are more tech-savvy than older workers, Obakozuwa said one of the students’ tasks will be to update the clerk’s wait time app for polling places.

That task will be crucial to ensuring a smooth experience for residents, as the clerk’s office estimates each voter will spend far longer in the booth this year because of the elimination of straight-ticket voting. The hours-long lines to vote at some locations in the March primary election were partly blamed on a failure of poll workers to update the app, leading voters to visit sites that already were crowded.

Under the Texas Election Code, counties do not hire most poll workers directly. Rather, county clerks recruit and train poll workers, who are selected by the Democratic and Republican election judges at each polling site.

The loss of straight ticket voting may turn out not to be a concern, but until the Fifth Circuit speaks, it’s too soon to say. Be that as it may, my first thought when I saw this story was “Gosh, I sure hope other counties are this successful at getting poll workers”. But other counties may not be paying as well, or may not be able to pay as well. That’s an inequity situation if so, because it shouldn’t be the case that voting is easier and more accessible in one place due to financial constraints. This is another thing that could be addressed by the Legislature, by mandating a minimum level of pay and a minimum number of poll workers per location and locations per county, and allocating the money to cover costs above a certain level for each county so they can comply. I’m being overly simplistic here, but the point I’m making is that the state could be doing what Harris County has done this year, which is spend the money necessary to improve access to voting. I think we all know what will be required for that to happen. I’m just saying it’s something we can work to make happen.

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8 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Poll workers won’t stop mail in ballot cheating, like Dallas Jones allegedly illegal ballot harvesting right here in Texas:

    https://nationalfile.com/bidens-texas-political-director-accused-of-illegal-ballot-harvesting-at-texas-supreme-court/

    “The Joe Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director has been formally accused of helping to run an illegal ballot harvesting operation, according to two separate affidavits filed Monday at the Texas Supreme Court.

    Two private investigators, including a former FBI agent and former police officer, testify under oath that they have video evidence, documentation and witnesses to prove that Biden’s Texas Political Director Dallas Jones and his cohorts are currently hoarding mail-in and absentee ballots and ordering operatives to fill the ballots out for people illegally, including for dead people, homeless people, and nursing home residents in the 2020 presidential election.

    The affidavits were filed as part of the class-action lawsuit against Harris County and the state of Texas, filed by citizens, called Steven Hotze, M.D. et al. Journalist Patrick Howley of NATIONAL FILE has exclusively obtained this testimony and much more evidence will be coming out in the case. Dallas Jones was named the Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director in early September.”

    The allegations are very serious, and if they aren’t true, it would set Dallas Jones up to file a nice libel suit, which makes me think they actually have the goods on him.

    And of course, we can’t overlook the Project Veritas tapes of Ilhan Omar’s people talking about doing the exact same thing in MN. One guy even shows that he’s got 300 ballots in his car with him.

  2. Ross says:

    What’s your point, Bill? If mail in ballots are that bad, then ban them for everyone. Force every over 65 person, every nursing home resident, every hospital patient to vote in person.

    Any suit brought by Hotze is complete and utter bull shit. The man needs to be declared a vexatious litigant, and be forced to get permission to file suit.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Whoa! Looks like this is why Diane Trautman suddenly resigned….didn’t want to get caught up in the scandal:

    https://amgreatness.com/2020/09/28/bidens-texas-political-director-implicated-in-massive-mail-in-ballot-harvesting-scheme-in-harris-county/#.X3JkuGaipSM.twitter

    Ross,

    I agree Hotze is sometimes waaaay off base, but this doesn’t look like one of those times. It looks like he’s got genuine wide spread voter fraud, right here. Again, if this is just some bullshit put up job, then Hotze and Co. are exposing themselves to libel cases, which is why I don’t think this is fantasy.

  4. Manny says:

    Don’t forget to exclude all persons that are in the armed services, anyone traveling, call back Trump’s mail ballot, how do we know that he is able to comprehend how to vote.

    Make voting by mail illegal, the Republicans here in Texas have been in control for the last 30 years

    Republicans are whiny pieces of manure that would be better if they disappeared.

  5. C.L. says:

    Still waiting to see evidence and prior/pending prosecution of WIDESPREAD voter fraud…

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    C.L.:

    Here’s actual video of Ilhan el Said Nursi’s cash for ballots scheme. The players ADMIT to it on camera! What do you want? It’s all supported by the governor and the AG Kieth Ellison, because why wouldn’t you support the home team?

    https://www.projectveritas.com/news/ilhan-omar-connected-cash-for-ballots-voter-fraud-scheme-corrupts-elections/

    There’s a second video out of actual cash-for-ballots happening on their site as well.

    Do you think Ilhan and She-Jack are the only ones? Really?

  7. brad says:

    Bill,

    Is this “evidence” from the convicted James O’Keffe of Project Veritas?

  8. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    Re: “Hotze and Co. are exposing themselves to libel cases, which is why I don’t think this is fantasy.”

    Bill: Have you heard of judicial proceedings privilege aka judicial communications privilege (an old common-law doctrine) and that other mantle of protection more recently fashioned by the Texas Supreme Court and bestowed upon a certain advocacy profession: attorney immunity?

    For more on the subject, see the briefing in this pending case: http://search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=19-0036&coa=cossup