electionlineWeekly on WorkElections’ New Pollworker Recruitment Q&A


[Image via workelections]

My friend and colleague Mindy Moretti has a new piece in electionlineWeekly highlighting a project with which I’ve been helping this year, workelections.com:

The attention-grabbing headline in the Tulsa World this week said it all, “State in desperate need of poll workers, election officials say.”

“The bottom line is if we continue down the path we are on, I think you are headed for a crisis eventually in that there will not be enough poll workers, qualified poll workers, to run elections,” Paul Ziriax, secretary of the Oklahoma Election Board told the paper.

Oklahoma is not alone. Almost every day electionlineToday posts stories from counties and states throughout the country looking for poll workers.

High school students, college students, non-citizens (for language accessibility purposes), county employees, you name it, counties and states are trying to tap every resource possible to recruit poll workers, but still the need persists.

Now one project seeks to lend a hand by collecting poll worker applications and information from hundreds of counties and states in an effort to make it easier for local election officials and potential poll workers to connect. 

Work Elections, developed with funding from the Knight Foundation’s Knight Prototype Fund, aims to facilitate a national campaign to focus attention on the value of improving election administration by broadening and diversifying the poll of poll workers. [Here’s an infographic that lays out the process step-by-step].

What is Work Elections?
Work Elections is a nonpartisan online tool that collects and centralizes poll worker requirements and applications. It currently has information for seven states’ local election jurisdictions (Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia) and statewide applications for a handful of other states. We hope to add jurisdiction pages for all 50 states in the future.

This project is a collaboration of the Fair Elections Legal Networkthe University of Minnesota’s Election Academy and Development Seed.

Why is Work Elections needed?
Many local election officials struggle to recruit a sufficient number of volunteers with the necessary technological and language skills needed to manage a polling place and help voters on Election Day. Additionally, many people who may be great candidates for poll worker positions may not know how to volunteer or what helping on Election Day entails.

Work Elections is a central source of simplified information for potential poll worker volunteers who may not know where or how to apply. By linking them directly to local jurisdictions, the website makes it easy for prospective poll workers to find what they need fast. We hope this will be a tool to help educate and recruit future poll workers.

What does a poll worker do for Election Day?
Tasks on Election Day depend on your position, but the general job of a poll worker is to prepare the polling place and voting machines, et voters, ensure order in the lines, check voters in to receive their ballot, issue the correct ballots and assist voters as necessary, among other tasks. Training is available for all poll workers so they will be prepared to help voters on Election Day.

Why should I use the Work Elections site rather than the information from my local elections office or secretary of state?
Many election offices and secretaries of states have great online resources for poll workers, but others don’t. Work Elections uses the information already available online and adds information like hours, compensation, and requirements that may not appear on their site. We also link users directly to each jurisdiction or state’s page for poll worker requirements, applications and staff contact information you can use. We have called each jurisdiction to make sure the information we offer is as accurate as possible.

I found the information about being a poll worker in my community… now what?
If your jurisdiction has an online application or a printable application, we included it on their page and you can use that to sign up. If an application isn’t available, you have other questions or would like to call your elections office to sign up to be a poll worker, that information is there as well.

I’m a local elections official who would like to update my jurisdiction’s information or add my jurisdiction to the site, what should I do?
We’re working on getting more states added to the Work Elections site, but if you want to help us get a jump start on your state, simply email us at info@fairelectionsnetwork.com.

This Q&A and other details are available at workelections.com; thanks to Mindy for helping to spread the word – and whether you’re a potential pollworker or someone (desperately or otherwise) looking for more, get in touch! Stay tuned …

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