The Guardian, Ray Levy-Uyeda:
In March, 800 poll workers in Palm Beach county, Florida, didn’t show up for their scheduled precinct shifts, causing many locations to open late, if at all. Ahead of the April primary election in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, only five out of 180 polling locations opened, largely because of poll worker scarcity. In July, the Maryland Association of Election Officials reported a poll worker shortage of nearly 14,000 people, referring to the lack of workers as an “emergency situation”. More often than not, the closures impacted people of color the most.
While the science is still unclear about differences in coronavirus susceptibility based on age, Covid-19 infections have proven less deadly to young people. As such, boards of elections across the country and voting groups are recruiting high school and college students.
As the Texas coordinator for the Campus Vote Project, Patel is one of many organizers around the country working with a voting access campaign called power Power the Polls, which aims to recruit 250,000 people to work the polls this November, many of whom are young people. “We have a serious problem with a not too difficult solution,” she said.
The duties for poll workers vary slightly from state to state depending on staffing, expected voter turnout, or the kind of voting machine in use. Patel said that when she worked the polls in the Texas primary in March, her duties ranged from setting up the check-in station, making sure all of the voting machines worked, to cutting out the individual “I voted” stickers. Without poll workers there are fewer people to check voters in, answer questions, and sanitize voting machines. Lines can form, turning voting into an hours-long process.
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