Earn An Extra Crust On Election Day By Signing Up As A Polling Assistant

Earn An Extra Crust On Election Day By Signing Up As A Polling Assistant

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is currently looking for temporary employees to help out on election day. Available positions include polling assistants, office temps and voter information officers. If you think the country’s going down the tubes, this is your chance to grab a few hundred bucks from the government coffers while you still can!

Each federal election, the AEC employs around 70,000 polling officials and other temporary workers who can earn up to several hundred dollars a day. The process is reasonably straightforward and can be completed via an online registration form. (Note: you first need to register for an account.)

Lifehacker reader “Pearl” wrote in with the following application tips:

My sister directed me to the AEC website. Registration was simple although the application form is a tad annoying since it assumes you’re applying for a full-time position and makes you fill in this lengthy form.
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My advice is to take time fleshing out each question relating to your work history. I spent time cleaning up my answers to make sure they reflected my professionalism. (So make sure you scan for typos!) I got a call back the very next day.
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The pay is good too. For a day’s work you get around $380 before tax.

Here’s a look at the available positions and what they entail as outlined on the AEC website:

Temporary Office Assistants (Level One): Temporary Office Assistants are engaged at the manager’s discretion and may not be required for duty after work on a specific task is completed. As a general rule Temporary Office Assistants work during normal business hours. However, due to deadlines imposed during an election, there may be a requirement to work during evenings and/or weekends and public holidays.

Temporary Office Assistants (Level 2): Level Two Temporary Assistants work under the same conditions as Level one employees, however may also be placed in a supervisory role for tasks such as performing scrutinies on ballot papers, overnight material sort teams and managing materials for an office. Level Two Temporary Assistants will have had experience working in the office and election environment.

Polling Officials: There are two categories of Polling Officials engaged for federal elections – those that are required to work in the period immediately prior to polling day to assist with early voting (mobile and pre-poll voting) and those that are required to work in a polling place on polling day only. The Divisional Returning Officer determines the hours of duty of mobile and pre-poll voting. Polling Officials employed on polling day are advised of the hours of duty when an Offer of Employment is made. Polling Officials recruited to work the full day can commence as early as 7am and will be required to remain on duty after 6pm, until all work at the polling place is completed.

Voter Information Officer: Voter Information Officers (VIOs) assist voters with particular needs, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters and voters from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, to complete a ballot paper correctly. A person expressing an interest in this role must be able to demonstrate cross cultural awareness and appropriate language skills. VIOs will be employed between the hours of 7.30 am and 6.30 pm on polling day and an additional three to four hours for training (maximum total of 15 hours). Where required, VIOs may also be employed for extended periods, for example, to assist with Remote Mobile Polling and at Pre-poll Voting Centres.

You can register your interest via the AEC Employment System.

See also: How To Vote Before The Election | Find Your Nearest Election Sausage Sizzle | Throw Your Vote Away Smartly With ‘Below The Line’ Website


  • I did it for a few years. Certainly an easy way to earn a few bucks. Try to aim for a small polling booth if they give you the option, even if it’s a bit of a drive away – the less votes to count after 6pm, the quicker you get to go home.

    Also, you will have to ask the question “Have you voted before in this election?” a million times, and I swear I’m not exaggerating when I say three quarters of people will respond with “Nah, once is enough!”

  • I think it’ll be far too late for this election. I was informed 3 and a half weeks ago, and received the training material in the mail about 2 weeks ago. Last election I finished at 11:00pm (15.5 hour day), although I was at a very busy booth.

      • i knew reading lifehacker would pay off !!! my brother applied and got an offer this morning .. THANKS CHRIS !! he really needs the extra cash aswell

    • You can likely apply up until the actual day unless all the positions are filled. I applied and had my position confirmed on the same day. There’s some automated system for polling assistants.

    • Its also an 8am start, and then you need to count which doesn’t start till after 6pm.

      $380 doesn’t really cut the amount of effort needed to get through the day.

  • I think it depends on the area and how desperate they are for “volunteers”. I worked in one of the polling booths in Putney for the division of Bennelong in the 2010 election (the seat that Maxine McKew won from Howard in 2007) and it was madness. Definitely not an experience I’d be keen on repeating again. Early start, late finish, and hardcore traffic all day, yet you get paid pretty much the same as somebody in some 2-bit remote area with hardly any traffic at all.

    Some thoughts I jotted down after my efforts: http://www.cyberseraphic.com/2010/08/election-2010/

    Still, I learned a lot about our political system from the experience and I do recommend that if you’re in a quieter area to do it at least once in your life, not for the money, but for the experience.

  • Not sure you’ll get anything now with election day so close, but you might as well try!! Good luck.

  • The training was today (Saturday). I don’t think they are still looking for people, only an odd one here and there.

  • I just got my offer this morning for a polling assistant in Armidale NSW, less than a week before the polling day.

  • Wow I signed up about a week ago and they just called me today the Friday before the election tomorrow and offered me a job as a polling assistant.

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