Community Service Leave for Poll Workers FAQs

To support County Boards of Elections across North Carolina in their work to provide full access to all voters, State Human Resources Director Barbara Gibson on Sept. 10, 2020 authorized an exception to Community Service Leave to allow up to three days (24 hours) of paid leave for state employees to become election workers.

The 24 hours allowed is part of the up to 80 hours of Expanded Community Service Leave available to state employees who volunteer for nonprofits that provide direct services to constituents experiencing COVID-19 impacts. Use of this leave requires demonstrated need of volunteers from the County Board of Elections where the employee resides, supervisory approval and proof of time served.

State employees and others interested in learning if their County Board of Elections needs volunteers are encouraged to visit the State Board of Elections Democracy Heroes portal. Interested volunteers also may contact their County Board of Elections directly through the State Board of Elections website.

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are provided to help state employees understand rules regarding use of this one-time exception for Community Service Leave, which was approved in context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Questions regarding situations

Community Service Leave for Poll Workers FAQs

Why is there a push to recruit to volunteers to support County Boards of Elections?

Why is there a push to recruit to volunteers to support County Boards of Elections?

The State Board of Elections is reporting a shortage of county-based election workers for 2020 Early Voting (Oct. 15-31) and Election Day (Nov. 3) due to the high percentage of traditional election workers being older and at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, with many indicating they will not be available to work in 2020. While some North Carolina counties have enough poll workers, others are struggling to ensure they have adequate staffing.

How do I learn if my county needs poll workers?

How do I learn if my county needs poll workers?

The State Board of Elections has an online survey that connects interested volunteers to their County Board of Elections. Visit Democracy Heroes to enter your information and someone from your County Board will follow up, if workers are still needed. You also may contact your County Board of Elections directly through the State Board of Elections website.

Must I be a registered voter to volunteer as a poll worker?

Must I be a registered voter to volunteer as a poll worker?

Poll workers must be registered in their home county to serve on Election Day, but you do not have to be a registered voter to work at an Early Voting site.

Can I volunteer in a county other than the one in which I reside?

Can I volunteer in a county other than the one in which I reside?

For Early Voting, the State Board of Elections allows North Carolina residents to volunteer in any county that needs poll workers. However, on Election Day, you must be a registered voter in the county where you volunteer. Note that most County Boards require Early Voting poll workers to commit to the entire Oct. 15-31 period.

The County Board of Elections in my home county needs volunteers and I want to help. What should I do next?

The County Board of Elections in my home county needs volunteers and I want to help. What should I do next?

If you wish to use up to 24 hours of special Community Service Leave for this purpose, you should submit a request to your supervisor. Remember that supervisory approval is required and will be considered in the context of the organization’s business needs.

Will I have to participate in required training to work during Early Voting or Election Day? Will it be in-person or virtual?

Will I have to participate in required training to work during Early Voting or Election Day? Will it be in-person or virtual?

Yes, training will be required. County Boards of Elections are responsible for setting training schedules. Training typically lasts three to four hours. Training typically begins in September and continues into October, often with daytime and evening options to include in-person or virtual sessions. Confirm specific details with your local Board.

What sort of proof of service will I have to provide to my supervisor?

What sort of proof of service will I have to provide to my supervisor?

The County Board of Elections will send you formal communications via email regarding your assignment and role. Provide this to your supervisor, as well as the County Board of Elections pay stub or any after-volunteer communications you receive.

My county asked me to volunteer on weekends when I do not normally work at my job. Can I still use Community Service Leave to get paid for this time?

My county asked me to volunteer on weekends when I do not normally work at my job. Can I still use Community Service Leave to get paid for this time?

No. This special Community Service Leave is available only for hours that you typically are scheduled to work. For example, if your work schedule does not include weekends, when many voters may choose to participate in Early Voting, or you opt to take training at night when you normally do not work, you would not be eligible for Community Service Leave from your agency.

On Election Day, workers are expected to arrive by 6 a.m. and remain onsite until around 9 p.m. Would I be eligible for paid time off for the entire shift?

On Election Day, workers are expected to arrive by 6 a.m. and remain onsite until around 9 p.m. Would I be eligible for paid time off for the entire shift?

No. As with any other form of Community Service Leave, this would apply only to your usual work schedule – for example, an eight-hour or 10-hour day.

My County Board asked if I could volunteer for more than 24 hours of work time. Can I get additional Community Service Leave for this purpose if they need help?

My County Board asked if I could volunteer for more than 24 hours of work time. Can I get additional Community Service Leave for this purpose if they need help?

No. If a county requests that an employee provide more than 24 hours of election assistance, the employee must request and be approved for vacation leave for any hours served as a poll worker beyond 24 hours.

The State Board of Elections is required by law to pay election workers. Would I be eligible to keep that compensation if I am approved to use this special Community Service Leave?

The State Board of Elections is required by law to pay election workers. Would I be eligible to keep that compensation if I am approved to use this special Community Service Leave?

Yes. Because compensation of poll workers is mandated, state employees who are needed by the County Board of Elections to perform tasks related to Early Voting or Election Day will be permitted to accept compensation. Contact your Agency Human Resources Office about completing a secondary employment form.

How much can I expect to be paid for hours worked?

How much can I expect to be paid for hours worked?

The rate of pay varies by county, with some providing a flat rate for training or Election Day. Wake County, for example, will pay $11 per hour and Watauga County plans to pay $9 per hour. Some counties are offering bonuses.

Is it OK to share this with friends or family interested in short-term work?

Is it OK to share this with friends or family interested in short-term work?

Yes. While special Community Service Leave applies only to state employees with supervisory approval, counties across North Carolina need workers for Early Voting or Election Day.

Can I use this special Community Service Leave to work with other nonpartisan nonprofit organizations that support Early Voting or Election Day, or to support a candidate or political party?

Can I use this special Community Service Leave to work with other nonpartisan nonprofit organizations that support Early Voting or Election Day, or to support a candidate or political party?

No. This special Community Service Leave cannot be used to volunteer with nonprofit organizations involved in election activities. It also cannot be used as electioneering for parties or candidates. Any employees interested in these activities must be approved by their supervisor for vacation leave.

Will the 3 W’s – Wear a cloth face mask, Wait fix feet apart, and Wash hands frequently – be enforced at voting locations?

Will the 3 W’s – Wear a cloth face mask, Wait fix feet apart, and Wash hands frequently – be enforced at voting locations?

Poll workers will be required to use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a cloth face mask or face shield (depending on their role), maintain social distance and both clean their hands and use disinfectant products to ensure that high-touch surfaces are frequently cleaned. Note that voters are strongly encouraged but not required to wear face masks; disposable masks will be available to people who do not bring one. Voters will be required to maintain social distance and will be provided access to hand sanitizer. Additionally, each voter will be offered a new pen to use and take with them in counties that use paper ballots.