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Election judges needed -- voter turnout likely to be big
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Published: 1/24/2008 12:08 AM

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If Kane County election officials could, they'd put up "Help Wanted" signs from one border to the next.

In the next two months, they will need more than 1,000 people to serve as election judges in a regular primary, a special primary and a special election.

"We don't have anywhere near what we need. We can always use more" said Linda Mitchell, the county's director of elections. "We have 223 precincts to staff. And we would like to have five judges for each precinct."

In the past, the majority of judges have been retired people. In the winter, many move to Florida and Arizona and return in the spring after the primaries.

"I have a feeling the turnout is going to be higher than usual for a primary," she said.

"We have two strong Illinois candidates wanting the Democratic nomination for president."

They are Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, who grew up in the Chicago area, and Sen. Barack Obama, a Chicago native and one of our state's senators. They, other Democrats and Republican candidates are seeking votes in the general primary on Feb. 5.

Also, on that day will be a special primary to choose candidates for the 14th Congressional District seat, which Dennis Hastert resigned from last year. A special election will be held for that race on March 8, which is a Saturday.

"We need enough Republican and Democrat registered judges to cover our needs," she said. "We do have 27 high school students signed up to serve as judges. We can always use more."

For two years, high school seniors have been able to work as judges for the day. This year, the Illinois law that allowed that was expanded to high school juniors. Letters of permission from their parents and schools' principals are needed.

Election officials have called high schools throughout Kane County looking for applicants. They are also talking to anyone willing to listen, Mitchell said.

The non-student judges should be registered and available to work from the time polls open at 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. They don't need computer experience because the voting machines are not computers, but they do need to explain how they are used.

Also, the judges will check for valid voter registration cards and direct voters to the booths.

"We train judges for three to four hours. By the time they are done, they will know what to expect," she said.

"The number of registered Democrats and Republican judges for each polling place depends on the number of votes cast in each party during the last gubernatorial election."

If more Republicans cast ballots in the 2006 general election in one precinct, then three Republican judges will be used as opposed to two Democrats.

Trained election judges are paid $125 a day. Judges who have not been trained receive $85 for the day. To apply for the job, call Mitchell at (630) 232-5990.