America is experiencing a shortage of poll workers - can you help?
Are you volunteering as a poll worker?
By Josh Herman & Lorelei Yang, Countable News
STOP! Before you read any further, check if you - or someone you know - can volunteer to be a poll worker in one of the following districts:
Work the Polls
Poll workers are traditionally older, so given health concerns around COVID-19, the U.S. is facing a poll worker shortage this year.
We can’t let that happen.
Why? Well, just take a look at some of poll workers’ responsibilities:
- Poll workers ensure election technology functions properly and efficiently, which minimizes lines and delays
- Poll workers help voters in their communities navigate issues when voting
- Poll workers can also help voters whose first language isn’t English or who have mobility issues
It is vital to have a poll worker assisting at the polls to ensure the democratic process is accessible to all.
What are the requirements?
Depending on your jurisdiction, some poll work is paid, some is volunteer, some is open to people as young as 16. Know a person who needs a temporary job or a high school student looking for employment or a volunteer role? Now’s the time to spread the word.
Also good to know: your party affiliation doesn’t matter as it is a non-partisan role.
Ready to sign up? Click here to help Power the Polls.
Where are the biggest challenges?
Pennsylvania encapsulates the uneven recruitment of poll workers. Thanks to heightened awareness of this issue, some urban areas — such as Pittsburgh, which faced a major poll worker shortage in the spring and is now seeing a surge of interest from prospective poll workers — have resolved their poll worker shortages.
However, rural areas of the state and Philadelphia continue to face significant poll worker shortages. Historically, Philadelphia needs about 8,500 poll workers on Election Day, and generally has about a 50% vacancy rate for those positions.
Pennsylvania isn’t alone in its poll-worker-recruitment worries. As of mid-October, Delaware was still recruiting for about 700 of its roughly 3,200 poll worker positions. New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has said he’ll call up the National Guard if needed to serve as poll workers on Election Day, was also still looking to fill the remaining 30% of its poll worker needs.
Additionally, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, some poll worker recruitment groups worry that volunteers could drop out due to virus concerns.
What happens if there aren’t enough poll workers?
In the worst-case scenario, poll worker shortages may lead to closing polling places in what’s expected to be a high-turnout election. This could lead to the disenfranchisement of people of color and rural residents in the communities where poll worker recruitment has lagged.
How you can help
- Sign up to be a poll worker with Power the Polls
- Share this information with your social network or someone you know who would make a terrific poll worker
- Double check this list again and click on the image to sign up:
(Image Credit: iStockphoto.com / LifestyleVisuals)
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