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story.lead_photo.caption Voting Machines: In this file photo, Election Systems Software Technician Jessica Simmons inputs passwords into new voting machines for Union County in February of this year. The county received 54 ExpressVote machines last year. Officials hope switching to a voting center system will extend the use of the machines.

The Union County Election Commission is asking for residents to volunteer as poll workers for the upcoming primary election (March 3) and general election (Nov. 3).

Union County recently switched from a traditional, residence-based precinct voting system to a voting center system. There will be 19 vote centers in the county that require a minimum of four poll workers.

Polling centers were introduced to Arkansas in 2013 with the passage of Act 1389. According to the law, voting centers are election day locations where qualified voters from any precinct in the county can vote. In other words, local voters no longer need to go to a specific precinct to vote — they can vote at any of the 19 centers. The vote center system should also require fewer voting machines throughout the county.

“I’m all for voting centers,” election commissioner Barbara Williams said. “I think it will be easier. If you live in Huttig and work in El Dorado, instead of being in a hurry to get back home, you can get off of work and run to a voting center in El Dorado. It just seems like it will be so much easier — maybe vote totals will increase.”

Poll workers are paid $25 to train and $100 on election day. All poll workers, even if they’ve been trained before, need to attend new training. Poll worker training will be held on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 starting at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Simmons Bank (100 W. Grove in El Dorado). Poll workers only need to attend one training. Voting equipment training will be scheduled for sometime in February.

Williams also noted that while the county has switched to voting centers, voters whose addresses were impacted by the recent 911 mapping/addressing change should check with the county clerk to make sure they have their correct voting address.

In order to qualify as a poll worker, you must be a qualified elector in Arkansas who is able to read and write; be a county resident; and attend poll worker training conducted by a state board-certified trainer. Poll workers cannot have been found or plead guilty or no contest to an election law violation in Arkansas, be the paid employee of a political party, be a paid employee of a candidate for office on the county’s ballot, be a candidate for an office to be filled at an election while serving as a poll worker, or be married to or related within the second degree of consanguinity to a candidate running for office in the election.

For more information, contact Williams at 870-814-6057 or by email at [email protected]

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