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Maryland Professors at the Polls: A Pilot Project Encouraging Faculty (and Students) to Serve as Poll Workers in the 2006 Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  should not be treated as merely an administrative instrument of government to choose leaders. Elections are part of the foundations of democracy . C ivic participation and engagement in elections reinforce a shared political experience and commitment to democratic governance. There is a national crisis developing on the administration of poll workers, and Maryland, as the 2006 election cycle showed clearly, is not exempt from the trend. The state has a proud democratic history that stretches back to the seventeenth century and should not allow a creeping mistrust of voting machines and election judging to cloud the fairness of the electoral process. There is a lso purely technical component to elections that requires government officials to competently administer the election process. Training and recruiting of election judges should not be left solely to the bureaucracy. A more active involvement by political parties is critical as well as a renewed emphasis on the importance of election judges to the health of the democratic system. Furthermore, election judges should receive the appreciation and respect of all government officials. Serving as an election judge is essentially a volunteer position for many people. As volunteers, judges deserve public admiration and respect and should be honored and thanked for their service. Better training of election judges needs to become a priority for Maryland. There needs to be professional training of election judges broken down by experience: (i) new election judges and (ii) returning judges and chief judges. Some judges should not be expected to serve all day at the polls. The long hours and inflexibility of polling assignment excludes many (particularly faculty) from participating as judges. Furthermore, given the long hours, low pay, and lack of recognition, it is too much to ask faculty to serve unless there are real incentives offered by the state via the institutions of 17

Authors: Messitte, Zach. and Cain, Michael.
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should not be treated as merely an administrative instrument of government to
choose
leaders. Elections are part of the foundations
of
democracy
. C
ivic participation and
engagement
in elections
reinforce
a shared political experience and commitment to
democratic governance. There is a national crisis developing on the administration of poll
workers, and Maryland, as the 2006 election cycle showed clearly, is not exempt from the
trend. The state has a proud democratic history that stretches back to the seventeenth
century and should not allow a creeping mistrust of voting machines and election judging
to cloud the fairness of the electoral process.
There is a
lso
purely
technical
component to elections that
requires government
officials to competently administer the election process. Training and recruiting of
election judges should not be left solely to the bureaucracy. A more active involvement
by political parties is critical as well as a renewed emphasis on the importance of election
judges to the health of the democratic system. Furthermore, election judges should
receive the appreciation and respect of all government officials. Serving as an election
judge is essentially a volunteer position for many people. As volunteers, judges deserve
public admiration and respect and should be honored and thanked for their service.
Better training of election judges needs to become a priority for Maryland. There
needs to be professional training of election judges broken down by experience: (i) new
election judges and (ii) returning judges and chief judges. Some judges should not be
expected to serve all day at the polls. The long hours and inflexibility of polling
assignment excludes many (particularly faculty) from participating as judges.
Furthermore, given the long hours, low pay, and lack of recognition, it is too much to ask
faculty to serve unless there are real incentives offered by the state via the institutions of
17


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