Sean was right, getting a job as a poll worker is easy peasy. I did a phone interview just now and I'm scheduled to be trained on April 17 and work at the May 6 primary.
The woman who interviewed me told me the qualifications for the job are to be a registered voter in Durham County, to be able to read and write, and to be "of good repute." I asked her what that meant and she said she didn't really know. I laughed and said I don't have a criminal record or anything like that, and she said "You pass."
The board of elections website doesn't seem to be strictly correct: the website says that the judges are all appointed in August of odd-numbered years, but the woman on the phone told me they're still sorting out the judges now. Though she said I would probably be an "assistant" since I've never done it before. That's fine with me! I'd rather learn how things work and let someone with experience take the more responsible positions the first time out. Besides, judges are legally required to be there from 6 am to 8:30 pm, while assistants can choose to work a half-day. I told her I was willing to work the full day, but if they turned out to be overstaffed they could cut me back to half. It doesn't sound like overstaffing is likely so I'm expecting the full day.
She told me that we aren't allowed to leave the precinct during our shift, but they make sure we have a bathroom and kitchen available. (I seem to remember Sean telling me about that years ago.) She also advised me to bring a book for the slow times. I imagine there will be a lot of downtime on May 6; turnout is usually pretty low in NC primaries. I'm glad I called in time to work the primary, so I'll have a chance to learn the ropes before the general election. Which I'm sure will be much more intense.
She also told me that it's acceptable for a poll worker to also be a partisan activist before the election, in fact they encourage it. But on election day all poll workers are required to be non-partisan: no wearing buttons, no advocating for candidates or parties, etc. In other words the "no campaigning within 50 feet" rule applies to poll workers too. It seems like that ought to be self-evident but I guess it's good that they remind people.
She looked up my voter record while we were talking (that was kind of a surprise actually) and told me she'd try to get me placed in my home precinct. But she couldn't guarantee it because sometimes the chief judge already has a team in place. I told her I'd be fine with going to whatever precinct they needed. It's all within Durham County after all.
So, that was easy! She said they really need people because they're expecting record turnout this year. If your job would allow you to take the day off on May 6 and/or November 4, and you like the idea of helping democracy, consider giving the Board of Elections a call. They have evening hours for the training sessions so you only have to miss work for the actual election. It even pays a nominal amount.