Poll workers: Essential to election day

Poll clerk Ali Shahidi, a second year business student at the University of Regina, says he got involved because “I feel like I’m helping out the community.” Photo by Adam Bent

Ali Shahidi and Christopher Dornstauder are two of the hundreds of workers helping Regina residents vote during today’s federal election. 

“I find that it’s beneficial that I get to help Canadians of all walks of life vote, whether it be for their very first election or their fifteenth,” said Dornstauder. 

The two young men are poll clerks who were working at different locations. Other jobs include deputy returning officer (DRO), information officer, and central poll supervisor. 

“I had a day off and wanted to help out,” said Shahidi, a second-year business student at the University of Regina. “It seemed intriguing.”

Dornstauder works for Indigenous Services Canada as an administrative officer. 

“I decided to work at a polling station because I fell in love with politics at an early age and this is the most meaningful way I can give back to our democracy,” said Dornstauder.

Elections Canada states that workers must be a Canadian citizen and 16 years old on election day, although voters aren’t eligible until 18. Workers are expected to have basic French language skills.

Shahidi and Dornstauder have the task of working directly with the DRO. Once the DRO validates a person’s government-issued identification and hands them a ballot, poll clerks are in charge of crossing them off a list. They must keep track of who has voted. 

“I feel like I’m helping out the community,” said Shahidi. “I like that I get to help people decide the fate of this country.” 

Those in positions like Shahidi and Dornstauder are paid $247.50 for their work on election day. 

Information officers stand at the doors. They greet people and point them in the right direction, in both official languages – “Hello” or “Bonjour.” They receive a wage of $15 per hour.

The central poll supervisor is in charge of all the employees, ensuring everyone completes their tasks successfully. The wage for that is $22.37 per hour. 

All poll workers attend a three-hour training session in which they are shown protocols and procedures for their positions. The reward for their training time is $53.25. 

Poll workers work long, tiring shifts. They are required to show up at 6:30 a.m. Polls in Saskatchewan open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Workers get to leave once all the votes have been counted. 

Prospective poll workers must submit their applications a few weeks before election day if they wish to work future elections.

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