Voters across the country will line up at schools, community centers, and churches to cast their ballots on Tuesday. Others will simply mosey over to their neighbor’s garage to vote. How do you turn your house into a polling place?
Contact your local registrar of voters or board of elections and volunteer. Or, if you’re lucky, someone might stop by and ask you. Los Angeles County asks poll volunteers if they want to host voters in-home. San Diego County sends surveyors door to door to find locations when a precinct needs more polling stations.
States and counties set their own rules about whether polling places can be located in private homes or businesses. Around 15 percent of San Diego’s polling sites are private residences. One-third of voting locations in Los Angeles are in private homes or businesses. California’s San Bernardino County and the state of Virginia, among others, prefer to host polling stations only in government buildings, schools, or churches. In some rural counties in states like Montana, private citizens are asked to host polling spots because there aren’t any government buildings for miles around or official locales may not be accessible to the handicapped.
If your home or business gets selected, local officials send out inspectors to make sure the space complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act. This involves measuring driveway widths and slopes and doorway access. Contra Costa, San Diego, and Los Angeles counties do not do background checks on people who volunteer their homes. They will send out election workers to chat you up and check out the premises, however.
People who volunteer their homes do not necessarily have to be registered voters. (You do have to be a registered voter if you want to be a poll worker.) In San Diego, poll hosts cannot have sponsored any measures that are on the ballot and cannot be electoral candidates.
Poll volunteers can make some walking-around money while performing their civic duty. Los Angeles pays between $105 and $175 to poll workers and $25 for hosting a polling station. San Diego pays $50 per location and between $60 and $150 for volunteers.
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Explainer thanks Grace Chavez of the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters, Matt Behrenz of the Virginia Board of Elections, Kari Verjil of the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters, and Sirena Jimenez of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.