Rice County officials say they need some people to become election judges for this year's elections.  County Elections Director Denise Anderson and Faribault Assistant to the City Administrator Heather Slechta were guests on our KDHL AM Minnesota program.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact already and nobody has a crystal ball to know what will happen in the coming months.  Slechta says 17 of the city's previous election judges informed her they are not going to be able to work this year for various reasons.

Many of them are of the elderly population which has been the hardest hit by death from the virus without a cure.  I suggested getting some high school students to participate.  It would be a great civics lesson for them in addition to getting them a taste of the working world without a long time commitment.

Election judges need to be 18 and older although a student judge can be 17.  Anderson says, "This is a paid position.  Student judges get paid just a little bit less usually than the regular judges."  Payments vary across the county with Faribault and Northfield paying the highest wage.

Faribault pays $11.50 an hour for Head Judges and $10.00 for regular judges.

Anderson said the county needs judges in all 29 precincts that require them this year.  Dennison always has mail-in ballots and Richland Township opted to go the mail route this year.

Townships with less than 400 registered voters may choose to have mail-in ballots.  Anderson says Nerstrand would have qualified but did not make the request.

If you are interested in becoming an election judge phone your township or city directly or you can contact Anderson's office at the Rice County Government Services Center in Faribault.  "Faribault and Northfield are the areas with the biggest needs for judges right now,"  Anderson says.

Anderson plans to use Richland Township judges elsewhere.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided to judges but they are not required to wear it.  Voters may go to the polls with or without a mask.

Social distancing will be in place so Anderson and Slechta encourage voters going to the polls to be patient.  A lot of disinfectant will also be used in the polling places.

If you have mobility issues you can vote curbside at your precinct also.  Contact the County Elections office for details.

Slechta says, "Besides this being a civic duty I think it's a great way to see the process and how elections work. How really safe and secure Minnesota runs their elections."

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