Iowa’s top election official says poll workers are key players in process

DES MOINES — The “election lab” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranks Iowa in the top three states for the way elections are administered and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says poll workers who check in voters at precincts and who count absentee ballots in the county auditor’s office are a big reason. 

“They are our unsung heroes. These the the folks that are a big part of what helps us administer elections, to give you the transparency, so folks know that our elections are run on the up and up,” Pate says. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

It takes over 10,000 poll workers to run a statewide election.  “They’re coming from all walks of life,” Pate says. “You’ve got retired folks. You’ve got retired folks. You’ve got teachers and construction workers and farmers — and they’re the ones that get it done.”

Poll workers are required to attend training sessions about voting rules before each election. They are paid, at a rate that’s decided on a county by county basis.  “Quite frankly, it’s a stipend, but it is some compensation,” Pate says. “They really are so key to making sure we have the integrity of our elections.”

There were primary elections in six Iowa cities this week and Pate has ordered audits in random precincts  — a routine check. He says county auditors are also testing voting machines this month to get ready for the city and school board elections on November 7th.