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Young people can aid shortage of poll workers

Chippewa Herald, Maya Patel:

In the 2018 midterm elections, about six out of 10 U.S. poll workers were over the age of 60, and more than 80% were over 40. That presents a major problem for the 2020 presidential contest.

The age group from which most poll workers are drawn is particularly at risk for COVID-19, and primaries held after the global pandemic made clear that finding enough poll workers to staff the November election is likely to be difficult.

In Wisconsin’s April primary, for instance, a lack of available poll workers caused the city of Milwaukee to drastically pare the number of polling locations, from its typical 180 to a mere five.

Luckily, this is a problem with a relatively simple solution: Young people should step up and be poll workers. It’s what I did for the Texas primary in March. It was relatively easy, I was paid for my work, and it was wildly rewarding to help hundreds of people vote, many of them college students voting for the first time.

In the days leading up to the March election, I heard rumblings about a severe shortage of poll workers in Travis County due to fears of COVID-19.

One of the few polling locations that serves the University of Texas at Austin’s student community was struggling to find a full contingent of poll workers to staff it. As a former student, I knew that polling locations near the university already face hourslong lines of voters.

Maya Patel is a voting rights activist and the Texas state coordinator at Campus Vote Project.

Read the full article here.


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