Poll Worker Training Class and Resources

Poll workers attending a training class at City Hall


Welcome to the Poll Worker Training Class and Resources page, your one-stop-shop for poll worker training information. Here, you can learn more about training classes conducted at City Hall and access a variety of supplementary training resources.

We encourage you to review all the resources available to ensure you feel confident in your ability to perform your responsibilities on Election Day successfully. If you have questions about any of the information or resources in this section, or if you would like additional assistance, please contact us at (415) 554-4395.

Training Classes

The Department conducts approximately 130 in person training classes at City Hall before every election to ensure all poll workers are properly equipped with the knowledge and preparation required to conduct a successful election. Poll workers are required to attend one training class prior to every election, which typically lasts between 1.5 and 3.5 hours, depending on Election Day assignment.

In person training classes cover the following topics:

  1. Rights of voters, including language and other access rights for voters with specific needs
  2. Correct setup and operation of voting equipment
  3. Voting procedures, including standard, vote-by-mail, and provisional voting, with a section that explains the issuing of ballots based on voters’ language preferences
  4. Procedures for documenting and transferring custody of ballots and other election materials after the polls close

After confirming your availability to serve as a poll worker on Election Day, you will be mailed a letter confirming the official time and date of your assigned training class. You can also login to your Poll Worker Profile to confirm. If you cannot attend your assigned training class, please contact us at least two days before the class, and we will do our best to reschedule your training to meet your needs.

Poll Worker Practice Lab

All poll workers are invited to attend Poll Worker Practice Lab sessions, which are designed to offer poll workers additional hands-on experience with voting equipment and procedures prior to Election Day. If you are a new poll worker, the Practice Labs are an opportunity to gain more practice and confidence going into your first election. If you are an experienced poll worker, the practice labs are an opportunity for you to share your knowledge with other attendees and gain additional experience. We will send you information about the date and time of the practice lab with other details about your training class.

Bilingual Poll Worker Training

For bilingual poll workers who will be assisting voters in Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino, a supplementary online bilingual training course is available. The training allows to gain additional practice serving voters who prefer to receive assistance in their native language, and reviews common election terms, resources available at the polling places for non-English speakers, and polling place procedures for bilingual poll workers. The course features a voice-over in the target language, interactive activities in English and the target language, quizzes and a final test. After you attend your required in person training class and complete the supplemental online bilingual poll worker training, the Department will add $10 to your stipend.

The online bilingual poll worker training will be made available online on this page approximately one month before Election Day. To access the training, log into your Poll Worker Profile. To accommodate poll workers who do not have computer access, the Department designates days when poll workers may complete the online training at the Department of Elections office.

Training Videos

To ensure you are prepared to assist voters on Election Day, you are encouraged to review the online videos in this section.

Unpacking, Setting Up, and Turning On The Ballot Marking Device
The Ballot Marking Device allows those with different abilities mark their ballot independently. In this video you will learn how to unpack and set up the Ballot Marking Device and the privacy screen.
Initializing Ballot Marking Device
It is important that the Ballot Marking Device is set up and ready to be used when you open the polls. This video will show you the various steps required to open the polls on the Ballot Marking Device.
Setting up and Opening the Polls on the Ballot Scanning Machine
The Ballot Scanning Machine scans and counts ballots. You will learn the different steps it takes to set up the machine so that it is ready to count votes on election day.
Assisting a Voter to Drop Off Vote By Mail Envelope
Many San Francisco Voters prefer to drop off their Vote By Mail ballots rather than putting them in the mail. In this video you will learn how to help a voter drop Vote By Mail ballot into the red box.
How to Process a Voter with No Notes
A voter registered with a qualified political party can be expected to want to vote for their preferred parties candidates. In this video you will learn the process by which you will issue the correct ballot to a voter registered with a qualified political party.
How to Process a Voter Registered with No Party Preference
Some voters are not members of a political party and prefer to register to vote with no party preference. Because these voters have no party preference, they must be processed differently. This video will show you the different procedures you must perform in order to issue a no party preference voter the ballot they want.
How to Process a Voter with a VBM Issued Note
Voters who have been issued a Vote By Mail packet or who registered to vote without providing identification will have notes next to their names in the roster. This video identifies the several steps a poll worker must take to process a voter with notes to determine if they vote a standard ballot or are issued a provisional ballot. You will see how the poll worker and the voter fill out the provisional envelope.
How to Process a Voter Not Listed in the Roster
Sometimes a voter will have missed the registration deadline or will have gone to the wrong polling place. As a result, their names cannot be found in the roster. In this video you will learn how to help a voter who is not in the roster to fill out a provisional envelope and cast their ballot for the candidates of their choice.
Casting a Ballot using the Ballot Scanning Machine
In order for a standard voter to have their vote count, it must be scanned on the Ballot Scanning Machine. You will learn how to assist a voter use the Ballot Scanning Machine in this video.
When the Ballot Scanning Machine Detects an Irregular or Unreadable Mark
Sometimes the Ballot Scanning Machine can’t read a ballot due to an unreadable or irregularly marked ballot. This video will teach you how to help a voter correct a ballot with an irregular or unreadable mark using the flip chart that is located on the back of the Ballot Scanning Machine.
How to Initiate an Accessible Ballot Marking Session
Some voters with different abilities may need additional help to mark their ballot independently. This video will show you how to initiate an accessible voting session on the Ballot Marking Device so that a voter may use it to independently mark their ballot. You will see that the voter can choose to use a touch screen interface or listen to instructions thru headphones and mark their ballot with the Audio Tactile Interface (ATI).
Closing the Polls on the Ballot Scanning Machine and Retrieving the Electronic Results
The Ballot Scanning Machine tabulates votes and scans an image of each ballot cast. After voting is completed and the polls are closed, it is necessary to retrieve the vote data from machine. This video shows, step by step, how to retrieve the electronic data from the machine and secure it for transfer to the Department of Elections.
How to Close the Polls on the Ballot Marking Device
Once the polls have closed, the Ballot Marking Device needs to be shut down and packed up for transport. Because this device does not save any voter data, the shut-down is fairly simple as you will see in this video.

Poll Worker Newsletter

Poll Worker Feedback

Your dedication makes Election Day possible for San Francisco voters and your feedback is very important to us. You are invited to take the Post-Election Poll Worker Survey after the November 2019 election to tell us about your experience serving as a poll worker. Comments and suggestions help us improve training practices and materials, Election Day materials, and recruitment efforts. We want to make your service as a poll worker an enjoyable and memorable experience, and we look forward to receiving your feedback.

 Inspector Survey
 Clerk/Student Survey