How do you feel when you hear that a state has closed down a bunch of polling locations?
As for me, I get really angry whenever I hear that. Prior to this year, when I heard about polling places being closed, especially when they were in states with Republican governors or secretaries of state, my first assumption was that it was nothing short of voter suppression. (After all, suppressing votes is part of the Republican election playbook.) But in a pandemic, something else is happening.
The stereotypical poll worker (the people who look up your name on the voting rolls, give you your ballot, answer any questions that come up, etc.) is a retired, engaged citizen from your community. So it’ll come as no surprise to learn that these poll workers are bowing out of this election, for fear of being exposed to COVID-19.
As one example, Maryland is down nearly 14,000 poll workers this election. Last month, the governor of Wisconsin had to activate the National Guard to cover for the shortfall of poll workers. Cities around the nation are trying all kinds of things to recruit poll workers (which you can read more about HERE), but they need our help. This is a nationwide problem.
How we can help
Today, September 1, is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, so one thing we can all do is share information about the shortfall and to encourage friends, family, and social media friends to take a few minutes to check out what it takes to be a poll worker.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
At the Election Assistance Commission, you can look up what it takes to be a poll worker by using THIS TOOL. What the requirements are, what kind of training you’ll get, and whether or not it is a paid position. (Because of the shortfall, several states are offering paid work!)
You may have already heard about Power to the Polls, an organization that has partnered with several other groups (and was featured recently on The Daily Show) which is aiming to recruit 250,000 people to work the polls. Sign up for their updates and share their link with others.
One final group to look into is Poll Hero, organized by university students, and is focused on recruiting high school and college students to work the polls. Know any kids or grandkids that age? Send them this link, or let them know they’re on TikTok at @pollheroproject.
Thank you for taking action!
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