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The Fairfax County Office of Elections is about 500 volunteers short of its recruiting goal for election officers to run the polling places on Election Day.

It takes about 3,200 people to operate in a presidential election year, with ideally about 3,500 volunteers in the system to account for those who have last-minute schedule conflicts, said General Registrar Cameron Quinn. Fewer than 3,000 have signed up to date, she said.

Every polling place will open regardless of the volunteer count on Election Day, Quinn said, but fewer volunteers will mean longer lines for voters.

“We will open and operate with whatever we have,” she said.

The county is particularly interested in recruiting bilingual volunteers. Because of the high Latino population indicated by the 2010 census, Fairfax County is now required to provide special assistance to Spanish-speaking voters. However, Quinn noted, they are also interested in having volunteers who are fluent in other languages.

In addition to the Election Day commitment, volunteers need to attend a training session that takes about two-and-a-half hours.

“We make sure that everybody has hands-on experience with the voting machines, as well as the electronic poll books,” Quinn said. “We also have to make sure they know the laws.”

Election officers receive a stipend, usually $100. However, due to a change in law, they can now opt to waive the stipend.

Quinn said some people were unable to volunteer in the past because their company’s rules prohibited them from taking time off for something that they are being compensated for.

More information about volunteering as an election officer is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/ or by calling the Office of Elections at 703-324-4735.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com