MISSOULA, Mont. - As conversations across the nation continue around safe and fair elections, Missoula County is already getting prepared for June's primaries and the elections office is recruiting more than 600 election judges.
Polling places are returning for the first time in four years, so the elections office needs additional judges to man those 28 locations, as well as cover any possible COVID-19 outbreaks.
Election judges have a variety of roles. They greet voters, issue ballots, operate equipment and answer questions.
Having more people helps keep wait times shorter and improves customer service overall, because there's more resources.
According to Missoula County Election Administrator Bradley Seaman, the office is looking to recruit somewhere between 600 and 800 people.
While that may seem like a lot, Seaman explained how they all play a part in ensuring a fair election.
"With 28 polling places, these are the people who are critical to making sure we fun these safe, secure and accurate elections," Seaman said. "When you work as an election judge, we'll always train you in, have you serve and if there is any form that is required, it's signed off by multiple election judges to help show that this process took place accurately. Then, it creates that paper trail that we use to feel so confident in our elections."
Election judges are asked to work school and special elections in May, the June primary and November general elections. With adequate staffing, election judges will be able to split a shift and not work a 14 hour day.
It is a paid position and requires training that can be completed at the elections center through March.
Some of these judges will serve as substitutes, so they'll be called to fill in regularly scheduled judges call out sick.