Civics Notes Throwback: Poll Workers

"Civic Notes Throwback" is a series where we highlight civic articles from past newsletters (published in Fall 2020). This article was originally published on September 29, 2020.

By Aaron Lurin and Nitya Kopparapu

Poll workers open and close polling places, sign in and process voters, maintain safety precautions, and assist voters with voting.

Historically, working the polls has been a great opportunity for older, retired Americans. It is a rewarding way to spend excess time, often offers a stipend, and is one of the most direct ways to facilitate and safeguard democracy. In 2016, 58% of poll workers were older than 61 and 27% were older than 71. 

This year, those individuals are at high risk for severe illness due to the Covid-19. This increased risk factor has caused worry about a massive shortage of poll workers. Poll worker shortages have already led to many polling place closures in states that held primary elections after the onset of the pandemic. 

Without poll workers, people can’t go to the polls.

If you are someone who is at low risk for severe illness due to the COVID-19 virus, becoming a poll worker will help people vote safely.

In order to be a poll worker, you must be a US Citizen and at least 16 years of age. You can find more information on how to be a poll worker here. If you are above 18 years of age, you may have to be registered to vote in the county you want to work in. The training to be a poll worker is now entirely online in Texas! 

By becoming an election worker, you can help your community, defend democracy, and get paid doing it!

Sign up to be a poll worker today!

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