Washington, D.C. — Poll worker shortages during the coronavirus pandemic represent a growing threat to American elections—a problem that could undermine Americans’ fundamental right to vote.
A new report from the Center for American Progress shows how this catastrophe can be avoided through comprehensive poll worker recruitment and retaining efforts via a mass mobilization of the public and private sectors. This report offers specific ideas for state and local governments, political parties, high schools, colleges, professional associations, nonprofits, religious communities, and other groups to help recruit and retain poll workers.
“To ensure that our elections—and democracy—continue to function, we must recruit new poll workers to replace older workers who have resigned due to health concerns related to the virus,” said William Roberts, managing director for Democracy and Government Reform at CAP. “Everyone must do their part to help recruit and retain a new generation of poll workers.”
The report includes the following recommendations, as they would prove particularly effective at recruiting adequate numbers of poll workers:
- Relax or eliminate service requirements, such as age restrictions, that prevent otherwise qualified people from filling poll worker shortages.
- Offer employees paid time off for serving as poll workers and stipends to young people who serve as poll workers.
- During the pandemic and economic recession, contact furloughed employees about opportunities to serve as poll workers, where they will earn money.
- School districts can provide credit hours or community service hours for students who train and serve as poll workers.
- Explore offering free child care services on the days that people serve as poll workers.
Read the report: “Recruiting and Retaining Poll Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by William Roberts, Danielle Root, and Michael Sozan.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.