As of a week before Election Day, the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters still needed to train up to 500 Election Officers to work at the precincts.
As of Sept 7., the registrar was still seeking 5,000 Election Officers. That number dwindled to 1,000 as of Oct. 12, and as of Oct. 28 they had reached nearly 4,700 and later stopped active recruiting.
“Recruitment is always slower at the beginning, and closer to Election Day, people are more responsive,” said Wendy Hudson, election division coordinator of Public and Legislative Affairs at the Registrar of Voters. The registrar sought out workers via press releases, targeted NextDoor ads and cold calls to meet what they had described at one point as a “critical shortage.”
Nov. 3 is the last day for in-person trainings for new election officers that last three hours. People who previously worked as Election Officers must take a 90-minute online course or can attend and in-person session.
The county — in which roughly 38 percent of the population is foreign-born according to recent census data — also made a last-ditch, successful effort to recruit bilingual Election Officers. The registrar said it had met the need for Spanish speakers, but was still looking for a handful of others who speak additional languages including Persian and Russian.
Chien Hua M. Chu, a Mandarin speaker who signed up to be an Election Officer after seeing a NextDoor ad, says the training was very helpful. “I think a lot of people, they don’t understand. And they don’t know [the] language well. So … that is the reason I try to help,” Chu said.