Why young Black students are stepping in as poll workers this election season
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
NBC News, P.R. Lockhart:
This year, Jackson, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, will be changing this trend on Election Day: The 19 year-old has signed up as a first-time poll worker as part of a national effort by the Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan group that works to reduce barriers to student voting on college campuses. She hasn’t been assigned to a polling place yet, but she expects to work in Bradford.
In doing so, Jackson, who is Black and Italian American, will join a diverse group of thousands of younger Americans, ranging from 16-year-old high schoolers to college students, who are stepping in as poll workers across the country during early voting and on Election Day.
In 2018, roughly 58 percent of all poll workers in the country were 61 or older, according to a survey from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Poll workers as a group are also disproportionately white compared to the voting population at large.
But those numbers are likely to change this year, especially after calls for young people to step up because of the pandemic, since older people are at higher risk of suffering from complications brought on by Covid-19. While a significant number of Americans are expected to vote through mail-in ballots, in some states, for varying reasons, many people will still vote in person.
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