Officers of Election
What is an Officer of Election?
An Officer of Election is part of a team that conducts elections at a polling place on Election Day. Their job is to conduct the election fairly and lawfully, and to assist voters in a courteous and respectful manner.
Qualifications, Appointment and Terms
- Qualifications - Officers of Election must be competent citizens. If practicable, each officer should be a qualified voter of the precinct they are appointed to serve, but in any case, a qualified voter of the Commonwealth. The assistant chief officer of election, whenever practicable, shall not represent the same political party as the chief officer of election. If representatives for one or both of the 2 political parties are not available, citizens who do not represent either of the two political parties may be designated as the chief officer and the assistant chief officer.
- Appointment - If practicable, officers should be appointed from a list of nominations filed by the political parties entitled to appointments. Parties must file nominations with the Electoral Board at least 10 days before February 1 of each year. The Electoral Board may appoint additional citizens who do not represent any political party to serve as officers. If practicable, no more than 1/3 of the total number of officers appointed for each precinct may be citizens who do not represent any political party. The two political parties having the highest and next highest number of votes in the Commonwealth for Governor at the last preceding gubernatorial election must be represented equally. Electoral boards appoint Officers of Election each February.
- Terms - Officers of Election are appointed for a term not to exceed three years. Terms begin March 1. Officers serve for all elections held in their precincts during their terms of office unless a substitute is required or the Electoral Board decides that fewer officers are needed for a particular election.
In a primary election involving a single party, persons representing the political party holding the primary serve as the Officers of Election, if possible.
Roles, Job Duties and Functions
Most voters do not know what goes on behind the scenes to make Election Day possible. They just know what they see and experience on Election Day.
Officer of Election roles are set by each locality based on need and staff availability, but typically cover the following functions:
- Greeter – welcomes voters and directs them to the check-in area; may also encourage voters to get their ID out and ready. Greeters direct voters to signs and other information such as sample ballot items before voters check in.
- Pollbook Officer – checks in voters using either paper or electronic pollbooks; uses the pollbook to ensure people are registered to vote and marks them as having voted; resolves voter eligibility/registration status issues by working with the chief officer and general registrar. If issues can’t be resolved, under certain circumstances the person may be offered a provisional ballot. See separate Provisional Ballot training for full details on that process.
- Ballot Officer – controls and accounts for all the ballots.
- Voting Equipment and Booth Officer – directs voters to available booths and may provide or obtain assistance upon request; maintains each voter’s right to a private ballot at all times; observes voter inserting ballot into optical scan tabulator and assists voter in interpreting and responding to system error messages. Note: if monitoring tabulator/ballot scanner, after instructing voters on where to insert ballot, back away so the voter’s ballot choices cannot be seen. Collect privacy folder and return to voting booths.
- Chief Officer – is an experienced officer of election and receives more in-depth training; supervises and oversees all officers of election and polling place operations on Election Day. The chief is responsible for making sure polls open and close on time and all supplies, forms and ballots are verified and accounted for. The chief can answer most questions on Election Day and knows how and when to escalate issues to the General Registrar or other authorities. Example Duties:
- Picks up election materials and supplies
- Contacts and coordinates team members
- Reaches out to polling place owners
- Swears/affirms all officers of election and pages
- Assigns duties
- Assistant Chief Officer – is also an experienced officer of election and assists the Chief in carrying out their duties. If the Chief cannot perform their duties for any reason, the Assistant Chief should be able to assume the role of Chief Officer of Election.
- Electoral Board – Facilitates the election; determines validity of provisional ballots; certifies and reports results to the state.