If you want to make $16 to $21.50 an hour and make democracy work, now’s the time to sign up to help Denver Elections in the November midterms and the municipal elections this spring. They actually just bumped the pay. You just need to be 16 or older and be a Colorado resident.
If you just came here to find out how: all you need to do is head over to the Denver Elections website and apply.
If you came here to learn why it matters, read on.
Here’s what you can do:
Denver Elections only has 25 “FTEs,” or full-time employees, spokesperson Alton Dillard told us. They need lots of help to make sure voting goes smoothly, and Dillard said they’re trying to recruit 1,500 people this year. They’ve made “good progress” but still hope more people will sign up.
You can help count ballots, transport ballots, sit under tents and greet people driving by with ballots, run voting centers, verify signatures or just sit at the door and be friendly to people on their way in. You can pick a position you get excited about.
“They can say, ‘Hey, that looks interesting. Or that machine looks fun to run. Maybe I can go there,'” Dillard said. “And if someone may not have a high level of technical acumen to work in computers … we also still have greeter judges. So we’ve got a pretty good variety.”
He also told us Denver Elections will work around your schedule and geography, so you can stick close to home and you don’t need to quit your day job.
Here’s who they would really like to hear from:
“Republicans,” Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul Lopez told us without missing a beat.
Under federal law, ballots must be handled by bipartisan teams to ensure everyone has a hand in the process. Since Denver leans Democratic, the city has trouble recruiting enough Republicans. Sometimes, the city will “trade” poll workers with other counties to remain compliant.
But it’s not just the law. Having a bipartisan staff helps curb the possibility one party might call foul, something that’s probably more relevant now than any point in recent U.S. history.
Lopez said his elections office has heard from more Republicans than usual in the last few years, but most want to watch clerks’ offices, rather than participate. Getting your hands on the work, he said, both helps the election happen and gives skeptics a more intimate look at how the process unfolds.
“It’s important that we get folks from both parties. We operate in a bipartisan manner, so we’re asking Republicans to join us as well, too. It’s absolutely critical. Don’t just sign up to be watchers,” he told us. “As an election judge, you are actually part of the team. You’re actually in counting rooms, working side-by-side with Democrats and unaffiliated, to really make sure that our systems secure, that it’s fair, that it’s transparent.”
Dillard told us they need some new elections employees to work as 311 operators, who answer questions that range from skeptical to plain-old confused. For what it’s worth, he says you should call 311 if you have any doubts or curiosities about voting.
“The thing is, we come equipped with facts,” he said. “So we always ask people: if you have questions about the process, instead of taking to Twitter or Facebook and fanning the flames, call your county clerk and recorder as a trusted source of information.”
If he gets his way, 311 workers will be busy.
He also told us Denver has provided election information in both English and Spanish for as long as 20 years, so they’d love to field some bilingual candidates.
There’s a lot of camaraderie at the root of this gig.
Another reason you should take this job, according to Clerk Lopez: “It’s your civic duty.”
One one hand, this gig – and a career fair this week to find helpers – are themselves exercises to fight back against claims that voting in America is rigged. On the other, that very rhetoric has driven poll workers away from their crucial jobs. Lopez was quick to say they have a security “playbook” in place and that Denver workers haven’t dealt with the same ire as people in other parts of the nation.
“There are people that have fought for this country in so many different ways. We’re not asking you to put on a uniform or go defend it overseas. We’re not asking you to go take to the streets and face Billy Billy clubs,” he said. “We’re asking you to just participate just by voting – or if you want to be an election judge, come be an election judge.”
That spirit brought Kathy King Boyd to find a job on Wednesday. She’s down for just about anything, as long as she doesn’t need to stand in the rain for too long.
“The things that are going on in our society and in our nation, I feel like it’s important for us to vote and I want to help in the process,” she told us. ”
Correction: You need to live in Colorado to be a judge, not specifically Denver County, as originally stated in this story.