Appointing Board

The probate judge, sheriff and circuit clerk of the circuit court, or a majority of them, act as the appointing board for the county.

The appointing board has additional responsibilities for provisional balloting.

If any members of the appointing board (probate judge, sheriff, or circuit clerk) is a candidate and has opposition named on the ballot, he or she may not serve on the appointing board.

If any one of the three officials is a candidate, but unopposed, and, therefore, will not appear on the ballot, that official can serve on the appointing board. No appointing board member is disqualified from service because a family member is running for office.

Upon disqualification of a probate judge, sheriff, or circuit clerk, the remaining members of the appointing board will then appoint a qualified elector to take the place of each member of the appointing board who is a candidate for election. If the remaining members cannot agree or if all members of the appointing board are unable to serve, the presiding circuit court judge then appoints a qualified elector to act in the place of each appointing board member who is a candidate for election.

Poll Workers

The function of the appointing board is the appointment of poll workers. The board receives nominations from political parties and makes appointments from members of opposing political parties, if practical. If the lists are insufficient, the board may have to supplement the nomination lists from qualified electors of the precinct who are members of opposing parties. If appointed workers do not report on election day, the workers who do report may make appointments from qualified voters at the polling place to fill the vacancies.

Nominations For Poll Workers. In general elections, each political party or organization having made nominations for an election may furnish the appointing board with a list of recommended poll workers from qualified electors for each voting place. Lists may be filed by either the state or county party chairman or by nominees for office.

The appointing board is required to select one inspector and at least three clerks from the names appearing on these lists, unless the number of appointments to be made at a particular voting place exceeds the number of names on the lists which have been submitted. If more than two parties file a list of electors, appointment should be made from the lists presented by the two political parties having received the highest number of votes in the state in the most recent regular election.

If no lists are furnished by political parties, the appointing board must appoint poll workers from qualified electors of the precinct from members of opposing political parties, if practical.

In primaries each candidate for nomination may, at least 45 days before the primary, present to the county executive committee of his or her party a list of electors from which poll workers may later be selected by the appointing board.

Lists submitted by candidates to their party may include electors from one or more of the applicable districts, wards or precincts. From the lists submitted by the candidates, the county committee should make a list of election officials in each district, ward or precinct. The county committee should then present the composite list to the appointing board for the board to select poll workers to conduct the primary election.

Members of a candidate’s immediate family to the second degree of kinship and any member of a candidate’s principal campaign committee are not eligible for appointment.

Time of Appointment of Poll Workers. The appointing board must meet between 20 and 15 days before an election to appoint the poll workers for each polling place. Because of this requirement, lists of electors compiled by the political parties should be submitted to the appointing board at least 20 days before an election.

If the board has already made its appointment before a party list is received, the board is prohibited from making any subsequent selection from the party list.

Number and Types of Poll Workers. The number and type of poll workers required at each precinct shall include one inspector and at least three clerks. The appointing board may appoint additional workers as may be necessary, but may not exceed the total number of precinct election officials paid by the county in the November 2004 election without the consent of the county commission.

Supplementing the Nominations. The appointing board may need to make more appointments at certain polling places than there are available names of electors on the lists submitted to them by the parties. When a party fails to supply a sufficient number of names for a particular polling place prior to a primary election, the appointing board must supply the deficiency from electors of that party. If no lists are furnished prior to an election, the appointing board shall appoint inspectors and clerks from opposing political parties if it is practicable.

Replacing Poll Workers. Oftentimes, there is a problem with appointed poll officials who either do not show up at their assigned polling place or wait until the last minute to notify officials of their inability to fulfill their obligations as an election officer.

Vacancies created by excuses or disqualified poll workers should be filled in the original manner. However, if the vacancy occurs on election day, the precinct election officials present may complete the number. If the inspector is not present, the other precinct election officials present appoint one of the number as the inspector. Replacement precinct workers must be qualified electors entitled to vote at that polling place. Precinct election officials should consult with county election officials prior to taking this action, if possible.

Alternate Poll Workers

In addition, the appointing board may authorize the appointment of additional poll workers as necessary to serve at any polling place. The appointing board may appoint the number of precinct election officials necessary for each precinct, however, the county commission must approve additional precinct election workers greater than those paid in the November 2004 general elections. In the event of a change in the number of precincts, the appointing board may appoint according to the average number of precinct officials in the November 2004 election. Additional poll workers must meet the same qualifications as the primary poll workers. They must serve in the precincts where they are registered to vote and complete the training prescribed above in order to serve. Additional poll workers shall be paid in the same manner as regular poll workers.

Additional poll workers shall be used to fill vacancies created when regular poll workers either fail to complete the required training or are absent on election day. Unless they are assigned to specific precinct positions before election day, alternate poll workers must report to the courthouse (or other designated location) at the same time that regular poll workers are required to report to the polling places. They shall serve under the direction of the probate judge unless the appointing board designates some other individual to direct poll workers on election day.

Instruction For Poll Workers

Not less than 5 days before an election, poll workers are required to attend a school of instruction on how to conduct an election. No election official shall serve in any election in which an electronic voting machine is used, unless the official has received instruction within 60 days prior to the election, is fully qualified to perform the duties connected with the electronic voting machine, and has received a certificate from an authorized instructor. However, an uninstructed person may fill a vacancy among election officials. The judge of probate notifies the persons who have been appointed as to the time and place of the school of instruction for voting machine officials and publishes the notice at least 48 hours in advance of the school. The city clerk performs these duties in the case of municipal elections.

Click here for more details regarding poll worker training.

Election Officials Neglect of Duty

Any election official (Secretary of State, probate judge, inspector, or clerk) once appointed and having taken the oath perform his or her duties or having begun the performance of his or her duties, who willfully neglects to perform his or her required duties is subject to a class C misdemeanor.

A sheriff or deputy commits a class C felony by willfully or corruptly failing to preserve order at elections. Any precinct election official who fails to serve at a polling place, unless the person has been previously excused by the appointing board, is guilty of a violation. When an official is excused, the appointing board fills the vacancy. If the appointing board is unable to appoint a person who has attended a previous school of instruction, it is permissible to appoint an uninstructed person from the polling place to fill a vacancy.

Election Officials in Municipal Elections

Officials for municipal elections include a returning officer for each ward and three inspectors and two clerks for each box when paper ballots are used. When machines are used, each machine must have an inspector, a chief clerk, and a first and a second assistant clerk. In a Class 6, 7, or 8 municipality, election officials must reside within the municipality and may serve at any polling place within the municipality. The election officials are appointed by the municipal governing body, not less than 15 days before a municipal election. No officer or employee of a municipality may serve as an election official. In addition, no spouse or relation of a candidate to the second degree is eligible to be an election official.

Like other elections, instruction for voting officials is required. The municipal governing body has the responsibility for providing the school of instruction. The city clerk has a duty to notify the workers of the school.

In cities having a population of 10,000 or more, one or more sets of officials are appointed to count and return absentee ballots. In every city or town having less than 10,000 inhabitants, the municipal governing body may adopt an ordinance at least six months prior to the date of the election to provide that, at the time other election officials are appointed, the governing body shall appoint additional election officials who shall meet on the day of the election at the place and hour as the municipal governing body may designate for the purpose of receiving, counting, and returning the absentee ballots cast at the elections. The ordinance shall enumerate the election officials the governing body will appoint, but the number shall not be less than three. These absentee election officials shall be in addition to other election officials required by law and shall be appointed at the same time and in the same manner as are other election officials.

Notification of Election Officials

The judge of probate must notify election officials of their appointment by mail and see that a newspaper of general circulation published in the county carries the lists of names. In municipal elections, the mayor or other chief executive officer notifies election officials of their appointment and then either publishes the list in a local newspaper of general circulation or posts the list in three public places.

Notice of Election

Public notice of state and county elections is given by the judge of probate at least 30 days prior to the election and must contain the date of the election and the offices and / or issues on the ballot. Ordinarily notice is given by publication in a newspaper published in the county. The mayor or other chief executive officer gives notice of municipal elections.

Poll Watcher Nominations

A watcher represents the interest of one candidate or party at a voting place and looks for any irregularities that might be harmful to the candidate or party. Each party entering candidates in a general election and each candidate at a primary is entitled to appoint a watcher for each voting place. The watcher must be a resident and qualified elector of Alabama. Poll watchers cannot serve as poll workers.

In general elections, a watcher may be nominated by each party by a writing submitted to the inspector by the chairman of the appropriate local executive committee or nominee for office or beat committeeman. A candidate may have a single watcher in the polling place that the candidate appoints and files appointment with the inspector. In elections where there are no candidates, each political party may nominate watchers. The nominating party, in person, must appoint a watcher in writing and sign it. The watcher then presents the signed paper to the election inspectors at the polling place where the watcher is to observe.

Poll Watchers Rights

Watchers will have the right to:

Poll Watchers Restrictions

A poll watcher may not:

Any person who obstructs, intimidates, threatens, or coerces a voter or any other person to interfere with
his / her right to vote or disturbs or prevents or attempts to prevent an elector from voting may be charged with a class A misdemeanor.