In good news, Americans are standing up for democracy and signing up to work the polls on November 3:
A month ago, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told ABC News that his state had about 33,000 poll worker commitments, short of the minimum 37,000 needed to open 4,000 polling places in the state.
“This week, we’re at 46,000,” he said. “We’re making good progress, but we told our boards of elections to recruit 150 percent of their normal allocation, in case there is a resurgence of the virus or some other reason people won’t want to come to work on November 3” [Carl Smith “Supply of Election Poll Workers Rises and Demand Increases,” Governing, 2020.10.08].
The Fair Elections Center has been working to help local officials recruit a quarter million poll workers nationwide. Project manager Ryan Pierannunzi says they are beating that goal and engaging new participants in the election process:
The promotional power of this group has been significant. “Our initial goal was 250,000 signups before election day, and we’re already over half a million,” said Pierannunzi. “We’ve been able to help a lot of jurisdictions connect with people who haven’t served before, and our hope is that we’ll have a new generation of poll workers who will continue to serve at elections in the future.”
Power the Polls draws on the database developed for Work Elections, and whenever possible, links to election district application forms. If an online application is not available, it collects data applicants and forwards it to the relevant jurisdiction. It can also send emails to those who apply, reminding them to follow up with election officials, get trained and show up on Election Day and provide assistance in developing online applications.
Jurisdictions that need help with recruitment should reach out to Power the Polls, says Pierannunzi, to work out the best way its resources can be used or updated to assist them. Best practices among the officials he’s worked with include outreach to community colleges, encouraging municipal and county employees to help at polls and minority language communities to sign up even more language assistance than is required by law.
“We’re expecting that there are likely to be some jurisdictions that will need help right up until the week of election day,” he said. “We’ll be continuing to focus on this to make sure that no polling place is closed due to a lack of poll workers” [Smith, 2020.10.08].