Photo via Picasa 2.7 under the Creative Commons License
The upcoming 2020 election the nation is looking at a huge shortage of poll workers. The nation is now relying on the help of young people.
Generally, when you go to a polling station working the polls is the elderly. According to the U.S Election Assistance Commission, in the 2016 general election the elderly made up 56% and 58% in 2018. This year’s election is held in different circumstances that the United States has not experienced since 1918 with the Spanish flu. We are facing another pandemic, but this time the coronavirus. The virus puts many of the elderly at risk as they are more susceptible to the virus. It has caused the loss of more than half of the poll workers for this year’s election.
Problems that occur with the shortage of workers
This year voters are already dealing with the pandemic and its own regulations. The shortage of poll workers will only add to these existing inconveniences. There are various things that have to be taken care of at polling stations. When there are not enough workers to work the polls, there is no choice but to reduce the amount of polling stations opened. Many problems start to arise, for certain voters the “closest” polling station may be hard to get to. Another problem is the increase of people voting in poll stations that are still open. This will mean that there will be longer lines and wait times.
What are poll workers and their role?
Poll workers help assist the polling stations all day from 5 A.M. to closing time. They have numerous responsibilities, there is a lot that goes into setting up and closing a poll station. Poll workers also have specific roles when the polls are open to voters including the following: Greeter, Machine Worker, and Provisional Ballot Worker.
When becoming a poll worker it is required to go through training. The training program is provided by each county. The training teaches you how to work the poll booths. In addition, safety measures are being taught because of the pandemic. Once trained you are able to work during any election. Depending on your county you must go through training again after a certain amount of time.
What can we do to help?
If you are older than 16 and comfortable to help out, get involved and sign up to be a poll worker. Many polling stations are looking for young people to replace the absent elderly poll workers. There are specific requirements that are different for each county. Workelections.com is a useful website that has all the data for each county. It provides specific details, a list of contacts, and a link that will direct you to your county’s poll worker application. This is also a great opportunity for the 16 year olds and 17 year olds who are unable to vote. It is a way for them to get involved in the election without voting.