A supervisor of elections is a regional official who oversees the electoral process in an area such as a county or province. These officials may be elected by the general public, or appointed by government officials. While elections only occur at set intervals, a supervisor of elections is usually busy year round, as elections require a great deal of work behind the scenes to run smoothly, from verifying that candidates can go on the ballot to making arrangements for polling places on elections day.
The supervisor of elections is usually assisted by a large support staff. The department of elections is required to keep information about historic elections as well as upcoming ones, and simply maintaining these archives and dealing with public information requests pertaining to the archives can be a lot of work.
Supervisors of elections provide information to voters and the general public, including information about how to register to vote, where to find voting precincts, how to get an absentee ballot, and how to get a candidate or measure on the ballot. The supervisor of elections also provides information about candidates and measures on upcoming ballots for the benefit of the public, or refers people to sources of this information, and oversees the production of a sample ballot in advance of the election which includes information about what's on the ballot, when the election is occurring, and how to vote.
A supervisor of elections is also responsible for finding and training polling place workers, maintaining polling place equipment and upgrading systems as needed, and collecting, tabulating, and verifying ballots after an election. In a large district, it can take a long time just for ballots to reach the supervisor of elections, as people may have to travel for several hours with the ballots from remote locations. Supervisors of elections also mediate disputes and assist with investigations into electoral fraud.
People who are interested in working as a supervisor of elections may want to consider working in the elections department to get experience. Many supervisors of elections have worked in various positions throughout the elections office before running for the position of supervisor or putting their names forward for appointment. It can also help to have a degree in a topic such as political science, which can be a strong selling point during a campaign when a candidate for the position wants to show his or her qualifications to voters.