Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I apply for the poll worker position?
- How will I be notified about the next election?
- How do I know if my application is accepted?
- What happens after I've attended the interview and passed the test?
- Do I have to attend a training class even if I'm an experienced poll worker?
- What does it mean to be a standby poll worker on Election Day?
- How will I know where and when to attend the training class?
- What if I want to attend a training class in my native language?
- What if I can't attend the training class I am scheduled for?
- How will I know where I am working on Election Day?
- Can I choose to work at a polling place that is close to my home?
- Will I be working at the same precinct I worked last election?
- As an Inspector, what do I need to do before Election Day (applies to Inspectors only)?
- What if I have to cancel working on Election Day?
- Is there a poll worker dress code?
- Will I be paid for the use of my personal cell phone to communicate with the Department of Elections on Election Day?
- When will I receive my paycheck?
- How will I know what to do on Election Day?
- If I am not a United States citizen, can I still work as a Poll Worker?
1: How do I apply for the poll worker position?
First, fill out an application online or in person. Then report to the Poll Worker Recruitment Office where you will be asked to participate in a short interview and complete a brief assessment in order to qualify for the position. The recruitment office is open for a limited time several months before each election. Once we receive your application, we’ll contact you to let you know when the office is open.
2: How will I be notified about the next election?
Former poll workers are notified by mail. Letters requesting your availability are mailed two months before each election. The letter requests that you indicate your preferred time and date to attend training. In addition to classes conducted in English you may also choose from a series of bilingual class options. By returning the letter, you confirm your commitment to attend training and work on Election Day.
Please return your Availability Letter in the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope to the Department of Elections, Poll Worker Division. If we do not receive your availability letter by the due date you may be assigned to standby and not to a precinct. If you do not receive an availability letter, please contact the Poll Worker Division at (415) 554-4395. Note: If you are unable to participate in the upcoming election but wish to be contacted for future elections, please indicate this on the Availability Letter and return the letter to the Department. If you wish to be removed from the list of potential poll workers permanently, please indicate this on the letter and return it to the Department as well.
3: How will I know if my application is accepted?
You will be invited for an interview and a short assessment test, which will determine if you are qualified to be a poll worker. If there are any changes to your contact information such as phone number or address, you must call the Poll Worker Division at (415) 554-4395 to update it.
4: What happens after I've attended the interview and passed the test?
Your name will be entered into our standby pool of poll workers and you will be scheduled to attend a training class.
5: Do I have to attend a training class even if I'm an experienced poll worker?
Yes. All poll workers are required to attend training prior to each election. Note: Any poll worker not trained before an election is not eligible to work. If after attending the training class you become unavailable to work on Election Day, you will not receive your stipend.
6: What does it mean to be a standby poll worker on Election Day?
As a standby poll worker, you will report to City Hall at 6:00 am on Election Day to wait for a precinct assignment. If you arrive late, you will be disqualified from the program and cannot receive your stipend. If you are assigned, we will transport you to the polling place. (It is your responsibility to arrange for transportation home.) Make sure the Inspector writes in your name and address on the Payroll and Time Sheet at the polling place.
Standby poll workers agree to accept their Election Day precinct assignments. If you refuse to go to a polling place or attempt to avoid assignment, you may be terminated and will not receive your stipend. If you are not dispatched, you will stay at City Hall until you are released by the Department of Elections staff. Be prepared to work the same hours as all poll workers: 6:00 a.m. until sometimes after 8:00 p.m. Note: If you are released before 12:00 noon, you will receive a half-day stipend: Inspectors - $82.50, Clerks/Translators - $72.50.
7: How will I know where and when to attend the training class?
Once the Department receives your availability/class schedule letter, we will send you a training confirmation letter that will confirm the date, time and location of the training class. The training classes are held 2-4 weeks prior to Election Day and are typically located in the same general area as City Hall. They last from 2 to 3.5 hours, depending on job assignment. Details will be provided on the letter. Note: The time and date you indicated on your availability letter may not be the one that is scheduled for you, so please be sure to verify which class you are assigned to when you receive your training confirmation letter. Arrive on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, you will not be admitted to class.
8: What if I want to attend a training class in my native language?
You must take the full-length training class taught in English. You may choose to complete an additional online training course in Spanish, Chinese, or Filipino that will help you provide assistance to voters in the additional language that you speak.
9: What if I can't attend the class I am scheduled for?
Call the Poll Worker Division at (415) 554-4395 at least 48 hours prior to the class you are scheduled to attend. You may only reschedule your training class once. Missing your training class without proper notification will result in disqualification from the poll worker position.
10: How will I know where I am working on Election Day?
You will receive a precinct assignment letter. You must arrange transportation to and from your assigned precinct and remain there (except for breaks) until all duties are complete and you are dismissed by the Inspector.
11: Can I choose to work at a polling place that is close to my home?
12: Will I be working at the same precinct I worked last election?
We always try to assign poll workers to precincts they worked in the past. This is not always possible so be prepared to work at a new precinct.
13: As an Inspector, what do I need to do prior to Election Day?
If you are assigned to a precinct, you will pick up election materials in the Inspector Supply Bag (often called a rice bag ) immediately after your training class. If you cannot pick up the bag after class, call the Poll Worker Division at (415) 554-4395 immediately. Not picking up election materials without proper notification will result in disqualification from the poll worker position.
14: What if I have to cancel working on Election Day?
You must notify the Poll Worker Division at (415) 554-4395 immediately so we can assign a replacement. Note: If you do not work on Election Day, you will not receive a stipend for attending training.
15: Is there a poll worker dress code?
Comfortable shoes and warm appropriate clothing are recommended.
16: Will I be paid for the use of my personal cell phone to communicate with the Department of Elections on Election Day?
Previously, when cell phones were less common, the Department awarded a $5 bonus to one poll worker from each precinct who volunteered the use of his or her phone on Election Day, to be used to communicate with the Department. However, due to the ubiquity of cell phone use and ownership, and multiple poll workers’ cell phones being used on Election Day we have eliminated the $5 bonus and simply increased the stipends for ALL poll workers by $10 across the board. We strongly suggest poll workers continue to use a personal cell phone to communicate with the Department on Election Day, as most already do.
17: When will I receive my paycheck?
Checks are usually mailed three weeks after an election. You will receive a stipend only if both training and all Election Day responsibilities are completed. On Election Day, you must verify your legal name and current address, and sign the Payroll Sheet. Checks are issued in the name of the poll worker only.
18: How will I know what to do on Election Day?
Before Election Day, you will attend a training class to learn poll worker procedures, including technical aspects of the City's voting system and updated requirements of election law. More information is available at our Training page.
On Election Day, you will receive Job Cards with step-by-step instructions for fulfilling your duties. Your Inspector will provide additional direction throughout the day, and a Field Election Deputies (FED) will provide supervision, trouble-shooting expertise, and supplies. You may also call the Election Center Hotline to receive assistance at any time on Election Day.
19: If I am not a United States citizen, can I still work as a Poll Worker?
In accordance with California AB 817, non-citizen LEGAL RESIDENTS of the United States are eligible to serve as poll workers on Election Day. Non-citizen Legal Residents who speak Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, or Japanese in addition to English, are encouraged to apply.