On one day last week, McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio lost 96 election judges who said they couldn’t work the April 4 elections.
“We go into [elections] knowing this will happen, but that is a lot to lose in one day,” Tirio said.
With the upcoming elections falling squarely in the middle of spring break for many school districts, Tirio said he’s a little worried more McHenry County judges may cancel this year because of vacation plans.
It is something clerks deal with before every election, worrying they may not have all of the judges they need for a smooth election day, he said.
In suburban Cook and DuPage counties, election judges working April 4 will see an increase of over past elections, $250 in both counties, a $50 increase in Cook County from the last election and a $120 one in DuPage County, the Daily Herald reported. The Lake County clerk’s office boosted pay for election judges in 2022.
McHenry County did not raise its pay, which is $180 for election judges and $260 for technical judges.
Every year, Tirio reaches out to the political parties asking for judges. Long-time judges are also very good at recruiting new judges from among family and friends, Tirio said.
You can never have too many judges on your roster.— McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio
“The response has been good, but you can never have too many judges on your roster” to call up before Election Day, he said.
The preference is for election judges to work polling locations in their precinct when possible. That way, the judges serve closer to where they live and where they know the residents.
“We like them in their natural environments,” he said.
The rules suggest judges live within the precincts, too, but there are times when he may need them at a site that is shorthanded, Tirio said.
He also know there are likely judges out there and invites them to fill out an election judge application form on the county website.
To serve as election judges, volunteers must be a U.S. citizen, cannot be running for offices up for election themselves, be able to do simple math, read and write in English and “be of good repute and character,” among other guidelines. High school juniors and seniors may also ask to be judges with additional qualifications.