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Inspectors work under the judge of elections, along with clerks, who are supposed to be appointed by inspectors. But few Pennsylvanians run for these roles anymore, Christmas said, and more and more of those offices go vacant. There are only two other ways for people to fill them: either an individual can collect signatures to petition a Common Pleas judge for an appointment, or the vacancies must be filled by a county Board of Elections. In Allegheny County, those remaining appointments ran in the thousands in 2020, and state law stipulates officials can only make those selections within five days of the election. “What counties have had to do out of sheer practicality, for years and years, is have an hop over to this web-site assessment of where they know the vacancies are and kind of have people ready to go,” Christmas said. “But those people don’t get formally appointed to fill them until five days out.” Ron Bandes, who has been a Pittsburgh judge of elections for a decade, said the law assumes most poll workers will be recruited to run or appointed by party officials. Most local party committees don’t do this anymore, he said. A county board of election’s power to appoint temporary poll workers at the last minute is not supposed to be the primary method. “This is a responsibility they’re not even supposed to bear,” Bandes said. This year was already going to be a complicated one for election officials, who were tasked late last year with implementing no-excuse mail voting for the first time.