N. Ogden council OKs poll workers after debate

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:50 PM

Rachel J. Trotter

NORTH OGDEN — The city council recently held a special meeting to vote on the poll workers for the upcoming primary and general elections after questions arose regarding how poll workers were chosen and whether those selected could sway the opinion of voters because of their endorsement of a candidate.

Only three council members attended the special meeting, where a vote was held to appoint the poll workers.

The council had scheduled the appointments for a previous meeting, but Councilman Wade Bigler requested more time to consider the appointments.

Bigler was out of town for both meetings. He called in for the first meeting but was unable to connect electronically to the special meeting.

He did, however, send the city manager a text, which was shared with council members.

In the text, Bigler expressed concern about Lynn and Sharon Muirbrook, who were selected to be appointed as poll workers in Section 1 and Section 2 of the city.

“They have openly put their names on Brent’s (Taylor) campaign brochure as endorsements. I feel this is a conflict and they should be replaced. As people go to vote and see them in charge, it might influence the vote,” Bigler wrote in his text.

Bigler and Taylor, who are both on the city council, are running against each other for mayor.

City Manager Ron Chandler told the council the county selects the poll workers from recommendations from the city. Those workers usually have worked the polls for several years.

Lead poll workers must have at least three to four years of experience, Chandler said. He believes that all the recommended poll workers have worked the polls in the city in the past.

Councilman Justin Fawson said that, based on the low rate that the poll workers are paid, those selected are civic-minded and committed to doing a good and honorable job.

“I wouldn’t want to hold anyone back based on political agenda,” he said.

Fawson referenced a previous election at which poll workers were very fair in regard to not endorsing candidates within the 200 feet of the polling location.

“Those that are civically involved more than likely endorse a candidate.”

Fawson added that he doesn’t think that should keep them from being able to be poll workers, because he trusts they follow the rules.

Taylor said in a phone interview that he trusts that the poll workers will be professional in every way. He also suggested that limiting the poll workers based on endorsements could limit free speech.

“At what point do you draw the line?” Taylor said. “There are so many poll workers, you don’t know what all their endorsements are.”

The special meeting needed to be held because the poll workers had to be appointed within two weeks of the primary election, said Mayor Richard Harris.

The vote to appoint the workers was unanimous. Taylor, Fawson and Kent Bailey were the three council members present to vote.

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