A polling place at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. in Lakeview. Credit: Mauricio Peña/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Chicagoans are needed to serve as election judges ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election as the nation faces a shortage of applicants because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The paid, temporary position is typically filled by older people, who work at polling places on Election Day — but they’re more at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, there have been nationwide shortages of people volunteering for the post. Gov. JB Pritzker said earlier this week there’s been a shortage of thousands of election judges in Illinois.

Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners has gotten a “steady stream of applications” for the job, but it still needs more election judges, Chairwoman Marisel Hernandez said in a statement.

The judges are essential to helping voters and ensuring people are able to fairly and confidently cast a ballot in the presidential election.

Officials are taking steps to protect election judges and voters at polling places, and since Election Day has now been designated a school holiday, students 16 and older can apply and help.

Here’s how you can help out on Election Day:

What Elections Judges Do

Election judges help voters and manage polling places on Election Day, Hernandez said. Their responsibilities:

  • Arrive no later than 5 a.m. Nov. 3 to set up voting equipment.
  • Open up the polls at 6 a.m.
  • Issue the correct ballots to voters and help voters with registration and other questions 6 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Complete all reports after the polls close.

Election judges can also complete training before Election Day, and they’ll receive a bonus.

Are Election Judges Paid?

Yes. Election judges are paid $170 for serving on Election Day. They’ll receive another $60 for completing online training before that, meaning they’d be paid a total of $230.

Extra pay is also available for judges who do other tasks, like serving additional days for vote by mail ballot processing, according to the election website.

Who Can Be An Election Judge?

Judges must be 16 or older and must be able to speak, read and write in English — though the board is also looking for people who are multilingual.

Judges must also be U.S. citizens and, if 18 or older, they must be registered to vote in Cook County.

Since Election Day is a school holiday this year, students will be able to serve as election judges so long as they meet the requirements.

Safety Precautions During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners is taking extra steps to protect poll workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Election judges will have their training done online. And come Election Day, they’ll receive personal protective equipment like masks, face shields, gloves and disinfectant supplies, Hernandez said.

The polling places will also have plexiglass shields to distance elections judges from voters, Hernandez said.

How To Apply

You can apply to be an election judge in Chicago online. Applications will be accepted through mid-October.

More information is available online.

When Is Election Day?

Nov. 3.

RELATED: Voting By Mail In Chicago: Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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