Perry Optimists welcome county election officials

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Kim Owen, left, and Julia Helm, right , election officials from the Dallas County Auditor's office, were welcomed by Perry Optimist Club President Dr. Randy McCaulley to last week's meeting. Owen and Helm discussed opportunities for public participation in the staging of elections.

The Perry chapter of the Optimist Club International hosted visitors from the Dallas County Auditor’s Office at last week’s meeting and learned about opportunities for election-day wage earning.

Julia Helm and Kim Owen, county election officials, said about 200 people are needed to work the polls on election day and six or more people to work for four to six weeks prior to election day.

Three hours of training qualifies a person to work the polls, they said.

“We want to give people some experience during the smaller 2015 off-year election,” Helm said, “so that way they’ll be skilled up and ready for the next big general election in 2016.”

Helm said residents of northern Dallas County have plenty of options for work sites, including three precincts in Perry, one in Dawson for Dallas Township voters and one in Woodward for residents of Beaver and Des Moines townships.

Poll workers earn $9 an hour, she said.

But there is more to holding an election than staffing the polls on election day, Owen said. Much work occurs before and after votes are cast.

Dallas County voters cast about 10,000 absentee ballots in the 2014 general election, Owen said, and a special board is assembled to open and scan absentee ballots. They typically work eight hours on the Monday before the election and up to 16 hours on election day, Owen said.

There are also election-day teams who go to the nine long-term care facilities in the county and assist voters with their ballots.

“Our nursing-home teams are very special,” Helm said. “They really show a lot of patience and compassion.”

There is also work to be done in the auditor’s office, from answering phones on election day to putting away forms and storing voting equipment afterward.

Students are also welcome to work the polls, Owen said, if they are at least 17.5 years of age.

For more information, call the Dallas County Elections Office at 515-993-6914.

The Optimists also welcomed a new member to their ranks, Patricia Saulsbury-Snyder, publisher of the Chiefland Shopper advertising circular and Perry Chief newspaper.

Nebraska-native Saulsbury-Snyder worked in the financial department of the Omaha World-Herald and the Ames Tribune before becoming a publisher in Perry when Arkansas-based Stephens Media bought the Perry newspaper in 2013.

Stephens Media recently sold their newspaper holdings, including the Perry company, to New York-based New Media Investment Group. a corporation owning 490 newspapers in 31 states and reaching about 19 million people a week.

Optimist Club Treasurer Jenny Eklund was thanked for recently recruiting three new members to the group. Along with Saulsbury-Snyder are Optimists Mary Rose Nichols, owner of Mary Rose Antiques in Perry, and Linda Kaufman, retired English instructor at Perry High School.

“We are so grateful to Jenny for bringing these wonderful new additions to the club,” said Perry Optimist Club Chair Dr. Randy McCaulley.

Perry Optimist Club President Dr. Randy McCaulley, right, and Optimist Club Treasurer Jenny Eklund, left, welcomed new  club member Patricia Saulsbury-Snyder of New Media Investment Group.
Perry Optimist Club President Dr. Randy McCaulley, right, and Optimist Club Treasurer Jenny Eklund, left, welcomed new club member Patricia Saulsbury-Snyder of New Media Investment Group.

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