Preparations are already under way for Texas’ 2018 election cycle – not just by candidates but by people responsible for staffing election polling places.

For county Republican and Democrat Party chairmen across the state, that means scrambling to fill dozens or hundreds of election judge positions in their jurisdiction. For civic-minded Texans concerned about election integrity, it means an opportunity to get involved in the electoral process and help keep it honest.

Elections expert Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation, says his number one recommendation for what citizens can do to make sure our elections are fair and secure is: “Work the polls in your city or county as an election officer.”

“[A]s an election official, you will have the ability to make sure that eligible voters are able to cast their ballots and that the laws governing the election process are followed. You can make sure fraud is not being committed by election officials in your precinct or by individuals who don’t want to comply with the federal and state rules and regulations governing the polling place.”

Working at the polls is a civic responsibility that’s essential to the operation of our electoral process – as well as a paid position that’s on the front lines of maintaining election integrity.

Election judges are chosen from lists submitted by county chairs of the two main political parties, with a goal of having partisan balance at the polls.

Texas Election Code calls for county commissioners to appoint a presiding judge and an alternate judge – each “affiliated or aligned with different political parties” – to serve at each Election Day polling location. Presiding judges are selected from the party whose candidate for governor received the highest number of votes in the most recent election; alternate judges are selected from the second-place candidate’s party.

The presiding judge “is in charge of and responsible for the management and conduct of the election at the polling place of the election precinct that the judge serves.”

The first round of election judge appointments takes place in July and August, so party officials are assembling their lists of qualified candidates now.

Almost every Texan who is qualified to vote, is eligible to serve as an election judge.

Willing to serve? Learn more by contacting the Republican or Democrat party chair in the county where you’re eligible to vote.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.