The ability to cast a ballot is one of our democracy’s most fundamental pillars. And for those who choose to do so in-person, physical infrastructure is required—a place to assemble, people to shepherd us through the process, someone to take our ballot—without which, the entire electoral process breaks down. Lines become unbearably long, machines break, people can’t be checked in, or polling locations close—making it impossible for people to vote near (or even remotely near) their homes.
At the heart of this essential democratic infrastructure are poll workers: citizens of all stripes who volunteer to serve the democratic process, making it possible for millions and millions of people to exercise one of their most basic rights.
Today, we’re facing a critical shortage of poll workers for the upcoming U.S. election.
Historically most poll workers have been over the age of 61—a population that is now among the most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. While Millennials and Gen Z will make up 37% of the 2020 electorate, they made up only 13% of our poll workers in 2018.
My dear friend’s twenty-two year old son texted me yesterday asking what he could do to feel more empowered during this election season. I told him, if he felt safe to do so, to volunteer to be a poll worker. I sent him the site of our partner, Power the Polls, and a few minutes later he texted me this colorful response: “oh hell yeah, I’ll be a poll worker, signing up tonight!”
Sometimes it’s that easy. :)
If you want to learn more about being a poll worker or are already signed up to serve, join us in attending Power the Polls’ upcoming virtual Poll Worker Prep Rally on Thursday, October 15th at 8PM ET / 5PM PT.
And regardless of whether or not you are able to work the polls yourself, there’s undoubtedly someone you know who’s wondering, just like my friend’s son, what they can do to feel more connected and empowered in this moment. So let them know: poll workers are superheroes of democracy. And they’re in short supply.
PS: Thank you to our NationBuilder team members in Canada, the U.K., and Australia who are making it possible for our U.S. team to take the day off on November 3rd to cast their ballots and to serve as poll workers.