Opinion

Letter to the Editor: We face a poll worker shortage

In order to uphold a fair, efficient, and reliable presidential election, this nation is greatly in need of an invaluable resource: election poll workers.

In order to uphold a fair, efficient, and reliable presidential election, this nation is greatly in need of an invaluable resource: election poll workers.

Image By: Bryce Richter

In order to uphold a fair, efficient and reliable presidential election, this nation is greatly in need of an invaluable resource: election poll workers. On an average election year, 56 percent of election officials are over the age of 60. However, as you already know, this demographic is significantly impacted by the pandemic. Understandably, many of those who would have typically presided over the polls are not doing so this year, in fear of jeopardizing their lives. As a result, our nation, as well as the state of Wisconsin, is collectively facing a poll worker shortage. 

Polls workers are essential to facilitating elections. Their responsibilities include the issuing of ballots to voters, on-site voter registration, assistance with questions or concerns, directing voter flow and — most importantly — making sure voters receive their stickers. 

According to the Chief Election Official of Wisconsin, Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin is in need of “thousands of its citizens to step up and become poll workers for November.” Look to the Wisconsin spring primary as a testament to the impacts of understaffed polling places. In Milwaukee, for example, the number of polling sites was reduced from 182 in 2016 to only 5 in 2020. The election was characterized by stagnant lines, in which voters waited for hours to cast their ballots, and the overall voter turnout declined by 8.6%. 

Furthermore, despite an increase in the number of Wisconsin citizens voting through absentee, nearly 2.6 million of the state’s registered voters are yet to request an absentee ballot and can be expected to vote in person. In order to avoid a repeat of the appalling primary season, it is crucial that we ensure the registration of a sufficient number of poll workers for the upcoming presidential election. 

Under the guidance of the Campus Compact Safe Elections Project, I am working to recruit poll workers for the November election. With significant reductions in the poll workforce, young Americans have a newfound responsibility to uphold our democracy, and college students are needed to replace the vulnerable populations who are not able to work the polls. The stakes of this election are simply too great to risk the potential of a poll worker shortage, and our current actions will assuredly resonate through the generations to come. Our democracy depends on it. 

You can register to become a poll worker at powerthepolls.org/CVPM

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