More Election Workers Needed in East Lansing

Thursday, June 14, 2018, 7:37 am
Alice Dreger

Above: Jennifer Shuster

East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster is putting out the word that more election workers are needed for the August and November elections. These “election inspector” positions are short-term paying jobs and help enable the local voting process.

One need not live in the City of East Lansing to be hired as an election inspector for East Lansing. Explains Shuster, “An election inspector must be a qualified and registered voter in the State of Michigan, but we may also employ election inspectors who are 16 or 17 years of age.”

She says, “I encourage any civic-minded individual, with an interest, to consider applying to be an election inspector. This includes high school and college students looking to gain experience and learn about the latest voting technology.”

East Lansing resident Kepler Domurat-Sousa, who turned 18-years-old this week, will get to vote for the first time in the August 7 election, but he has already been working as an election inspector for two years.

Domurat-Sousa explains that he took on the job “to get involved even when I couldn’t change the course of the election. It was still an interesting experience and allowed me to be part of the voting process.”

Schuster seconds that attitude, telling ELi , “By working at our precincts on Election Day, election inspectors play an important role in assisting with the voting process and ensuring the right to vote for all registered voters. They are a vital part of democracy in action and are greatly appreciated for their service.”

Val Thonger has worked as an election inspector for East Lansing for many years. She tells ELi, “I like to think of it as being like speed dating, where you get to see all your neighbors for just a very short period of time. Having lived here for over 30 years, I get to see parents of my kids’ friends, friends of my kids who still live here – it is just really fun to see all the people we’ve known.”

Thonger’s spouse, Ken Sperber, agrees. Sperber also works as an East Lansing election inspector. “It’s a neighborhood homecoming,” he says. “And sometimes when someone votes for the first time, we clap to encourage them.”

Says Sperber, “You hear about voter suppression, but here in East Lansing it is the opposite. Everyone who is eligible to vote, we want to help them vote. Some people show up at the wrong precinct and we help them find the right one, or they accidentally spoil a ballot, and we help them get a new one. Anything we can do to help a person vote, we will do it….It is truly democracy at work.”

Thonger agrees, saying, “We will make it happen if you want to vote and you are registered.” She adds, “We don’t do it because they pay us. We do it because it is fun and easy to do, and not everyone can free themselves to work” on Election Day.

What makes a person good at this job? Ideally, says Schuster, “Election inspectors should be detail-oriented, friendly and able to work up to a possible 16-hour day.”

That said, a long day of work is not required. People can sign up to work half-day shifts from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or from 2 p.m. until the work is done. (Polls close at 8 p.m. but the work runs later.)

Election inspectors must also attend a mandatory three-hour training to be certified to work. Training sessions are scheduled for July 19 and 26 from 9 a.m. to noon and from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each of those days.

The job of Election Inspector pays $120 for a full-day shift and $60 for a half-day. Inspectors are also paid for training at $10 per hour. Those who work the more complex job of Chair are paid $180.

Interested persons can apply in person at the East Lansing City Clerk's Office at City Hall. Those interested can also email or call (517) 319-6914. Applicants will be asked to complete the standard state-wide application form which can be downloaded, filled out, and mailed to the East Lansing City Clerk (East Lansing City Hall, 410 Abbot Road, East Lansing, 48823).


Disclosure: Kepler Domurat-Sousa is the son of the author of this story, Alice Dreger.

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