Recruitment effort for poll workers revived amid shortage fears

Recruiting poll workers has been one of the biggest challenges for poll workers in the 2020 elections. And an increase in conspiracy theory-fueled threats against poll workers, from secretaries of state to secretaries of state , has worried some on the ground, who say the environment is making it harder to recruit and retain enough workers this election cycle.

Slusser said Power the Polls would seek to re-engage the 700,000 people who signed up to be potential poll workers in 2020, encouraging them to get in touch with their local election offices to work again. She said Power the Polls would place particular emphasis on recruiting workers with specialized skills, such as knowledge of multiple languages, that local officials need to run elections smoothly.

The initiative’s co-founders include the Civic Alliance – an association of big business, from tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft to retailers like Starbucks and Old Navy – as well as the Fair Elections Center, the Civic Responsibility Project, Pizza to the Polls , the Center for Safe and Modern Elections and MTV and Comedy Central.

Slusser also acknowledged that election administrators struggle with a tight labor market, which makes it harder to recruit in some areas. “I think election administrators, like every other employer in America, have a hard time finding people,” she said.

And the natural decline in engagement in a midterm election year compared to a presidential year also presents a challenge for election officials.

“It doesn’t matter if the turnout is not as high as it was in these presidential years, we still have to open all these polling places,” she said. “I think it’s really about awareness.”

The administrative challenges facing this year’s election — from supply chain struggles to misinformation and attendant threats to workers — have also caught the attention of Congress.

The Senate Rules Committee, which oversees federal election oversight, held a hearing Thursday on a wide range of challenges.

“States must also continue the important work of recruiting, training and retaining poll workers,” Sen said. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the prominent member of the committee, “many of whom do it primarily as a volunteer activity. And it’s pretty easy to not volunteer if it’s an activity you choose not to participate in.


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