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Block the Vote: Are We Running Out Of Poll Workers?

A poll worker helps a voter at the Fairfax Government Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
A poll worker helps a voter at the Fairfax Government Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

Every election, poll workers are the ones setting up voting locations, checking voter identification, processing ballots, and even providing  translation services for voters who need assistance. Without poll workers, it’s hard to imagine election night running smoothly.

But some voting rights advocates say the United States has a systemic lack of investment in recruiting and training its poll workers, especially in Black and Brown communities. For many, that’s a form of voter suppression.

And now, with the majority of poll workers being over the age of 60, the coronavirus pandemic has some experts worried about a poll worker shortage.

There’s been a recent groundswell of high school and college students trying to recruit their peers to work the polls ahead of the election. Some companies are giving their employees paid time off for volunteering as a worker. Will that be enough to combat a shortage ahead of November 3rd?

As part of our “Block the Vote” series, we’ll talk about the efforts to recruit more poll workers — and what’s at stake if those efforts fail.

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