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Help the process by being an election judge

Super Tuesday’s in the rear-view mirror and St. Mary’s light ballot of a primary election is still nearly seven weeks away.

So if you’re not running or connected to a campaign, but you want to do something more than vote, what can you do?

Susan Julian, deputy director of the St. Mary’s County Board of Elections, says she has just the job for you: Become an election judge. It’s a 15-hour day, but you get paid for your patriotic time and trouble.

What do election judges do? They prepare the polling place for voting, check in voters, instruct them on how to use the voting equipment, maintain the security of voting materials and then close the polling place. In accordance with federal and state laws, an election judge must perform all of the duties assigned to by the local board of elections faithfully, diligently and without partiality or prejudice. So far, so good, right?

Act quickly if you’re interested. Julian said 569 election judges have already been assigned, but another eight are still needed as of Monday. She said some people are expected to drop out for fear of the coronavirus, which of course has no effect on plans for the primary yet.

You don’t have to live in a particular precinct to be an election judge there. Any state resident can work at any precinct in Maryland. In fact, Julian said, there have been some judges in St. Mary’s who come from Charles or Calvert.

So who’s eligible to be an election judge? Those who registered to vote in Maryland and are at least 16 years old (people that young can now register when they get a driver’s license, even though they wouldn’t yet be eligible to vote); not a candidate for office; detail oriented; and can speak, read and write English. The minimum age requirement had been 17, but that was lowered before the last election. That was a great move, since it allows young people to get involved in the political process even sooner before they’re actually eligible to vote.

Judges will work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Primary Election Day, Tuesday, April 28, and need their own transportation to and from their assigned precincts. Polling places all over St. Mary’s County will be open for balloting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

And here’s the money part: Judges are paid at least $200, as well as $30 for attending the required training. They will be paid by the county within six weeks of working. She said provisional judges can make $225, and chief judges earn $250. Chief judges need to undergo two three-hour sessions of training, while the other judges require two sessions at two hours each.

No more judges are needed for early voting for the primary, which will take place Thursday, April 16, until Thursday, April 23, at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s social hall.

Still interested in being an election judge? Go to, click on the residents tab, then click elections, then the election judge star, and fill out the prospective judge form. Call 301-475-7844, ext. *1625, or email to learn more. By the way, that’s also the email address to send the completed application, unless you’d prefer to fax it to 301-475-4077.

As of the end of February, there are 78,909 registered voters in St. Mary’s County, according to the election board. Republicans remain in the plurality here, with 32,577 registered, or 41.3%. Democrats number 28,087 (or 35.6%), with still another 17,066 unaffiliated voters (21.6%) on the rolls. There are also 1,172 listed as “others.” Only those registered as Republicans or Democrats are eligible to vote in the primary this time around, but voter registration is open until April 7 (and until 11:59 p.m. if you do it online).

Well, technically. Folks who miss the April 7 deadline can still register in Hollywood during early voting, or at their assigned polling place on April 28. If you do that, you have to bring a document that proves where you live. A driver’s license, state-issued ID card or change of address card, paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or other government document that includes the voter’s name and address will suffice to get you signed up.

So make sure you’re registered, and then consider being an election judge in St. Mary’s. It’s a great way for a student or senior citizen — or anybody else who’s not working that day — to earn some extra cash and help others cast their votes.