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Politics

Polling Place Managers Take Training

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(Photo- KXNT SamStone) Clark County elections trainer Marg Biesiada and poll manager Jose Olvero set up a voting machine during a training class.

(Photo- KXNT SamStone) Clark County elections trainer Marg Biesiada and poll manager Jose Olvero set up a voting machine during a training class.

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(Las Vegas CBS KXNT)  The clark county elections department relies on hundreds of volunteers to staff the polling places throughout early voting and election day.  The volunteers are supervised by County employees, who take a training class before every election.

Some of the managers are veterans with 20 years of election-day work under their belts.  Even the long-timers are required to take a 3-hour refresher course, reviewing every responsibility from setting up equipment to handling poll watchers dispatched by the parties to scrutinize the process.

There are challenges to be handled, says Marg Biesiada, who works as a trainer for the elections office.  But they aren’t the ones you might suspect.  Malfunctioning machines and illicit activity are rare.   The biggest challenge is the 7 a.m. swarm, Biesiada told KXNT.

“When they open that door, the people come swarming in at them,” she said.  “So they have to have control, stay calm, keep the other people calm.”

Class participants told KNXT there’s another election-day challenge that wastes time and makes voters steaming mad.  A surprising number of people have to be turned away because they’ve come to the wrong location. Some voters have moved, some may have a new location because of redidstricting, and some may simply be mistaken.

“Look on the back of your ballot,” one manager in the class said.  “Your election polling place is there, with a map.”

Ensuring accuracy and security is also a part of the manager’s job. The machines bear tamperproof seals to be opened only when they’re ready to boot up for voting. The managers are required to make five phone calls to check in with the county office, at strictly scheduled times throughout the day. The last call is placed when everything is packed up and the poll manager is on the way back to headquarters.

The county supplies two cell phones and a long list of numbers to summon support staff when problems arise.  Staff is standing by to handle tech support, irate voters, even supplies that need replenishing.

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