Opinion 20-129

October 9, 2020

Dear :

         This responds to your inquiry (20-129) asking whether, as a full-time judge, you may be trained, and thereafter serve, as an election poll clerk. This is a temporary, paid employment position with your local Board of Elections, although you indicate you would decline compensation if legally permitted to do so. We understand that the appointments are equally divided between the major political parties (see e.g. Election Law § 3-400[3] [“Appointments to the offices of election inspector or poll clerk in each election district, shall be equally divided between the major political parties’]).1

         A judge must not “engage directly or indirectly in any political activity” unless an exception applies (see 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][1]). However, even if this position is, in fact, non-partisan, the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct prohibit a full-time judge from accepting an “appointment to a governmental committee or other governmental position that is concerned with issues of fact or policy in matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice” (22 NYCRR 100.4[C][2][a]). Moreover, the Rules prohibit a full-time judge from being compensated by New York State, its political subdivision, or an office or agency thereof (see 22 NYCRR 100.4[H][1][c][1]).


                                       Very truly yours,



                                       George D. Marlow, Assoc. Justice (Ret.)

                                       Appellate Div. First Dep’t

                                       Committee Co-Chair


                                       Margaret T. Walsh                                                                                                     Supreme Court Justice

                                       Committee Co-Chair


1The duties described by your local Board of Elections include preparing the poll site for voters; assisting voters during the voting process; closing the poll site; canvassing and reporting election results; and assisting other poll workers as needed.