A few weeks ago, one of my radio guests brought up a potential problem in this election that I had never considered. Fortunately, this is something we can fix, with your help. We may not have enough poll workers at the polls.
Many states will face a shortage of thousands of poll workers this time because so many of them are older and face a potentially higher risk for the coronavirus. That may cause them to cancel their plans to work the polls for the election.
The process of attrition has been taking place for some time. Older retirees are the most likely demographic to work in America’s polling places. But many of them are getting too old to work or even have died. They should have been replaced by younger workers, but that is not happening and it looks like they will be shorthanded.
The citizens working the polls usually do it out of a sense of civic duty. It isn’t very attractive to the younger generation who don’t have much interest in working twelve-hour days for what is often less than minimum wage.
In a recent article, John Fund estimates that we should have about 900,000 poll workers. They are responsible for checking in voters, getting them the proper ballot, and answereing questions. A shortage of poll workers could mean longer lines and many delays.
The Pew Research Center reports that a majority (58%) of poll workers in the last election (2018) were age 61 or older. That is a demographic that is more vulnerable to the coronavirus and therefore less likely to want to work the polls.
This is where you can help. You may be willing to work in the polls or know young people who would like to do so. You can contact your local political party and find out when the next training will take place. We need poll workers for this election, and you can volunteer and make a difference.