It’s Simple Math:
No Poll Workers = No Polling Sites.

We need you. Help make the 2020 election possible. 

Your community needs you. Right now. Help keep polling places open for the 2020 Election by becoming a poll worker.

The Need

The 2020 General Presidential Election can not be rescheduled.

Millions of voters will cast absentee ballots and still millions more will show up to cast a ballot in-person on Election Day and during early voting. 

In-person voting will be particularly important to new voters, young voters, voters from low-income backgrounds, voters with limited English skills, voters living on Native reservations, and voters with disabilities. 

Recent elections have suffered from poll worker shortages that have led to long lines. This problem is exacerbated this year as most poll workers are over the age of 60, who are at higher risk of complications from COVID. 

IN 2016
116,990
Polling Places

917,694

Poll Workers

Nearly 65%

of jurisdictions reported that it was difficult to obtain a sufficient number of poll workers, with the more populous jurisdictions facing the greatest challenges.

Nearly 60%

of poll workers were over the age of 60—the most at-risk age group for complications from coronavirus.

Being a Poll Worker – FAQ

What does a poll worker do?

Poll workers make elections happen. They’re the on-the-ground people who work at polling locations and make voting possible. Exact responsibilities vary depending on location and role on the team, but may include:

  • Setting up and wiping down voting machines
  • Checking in and processing voters as they arrive
  • Directing voters to open booths
  • Helping voters maintain physical distance in lines
  • Helping voters understand and complete their ballots
  • Opening and counting mailed ballots
Who can be a poll worker?

Qualifications vary by jurisdiction. Many places require poll workers to be registered to vote in the states or county where they intend to serve, but many exceptions exist:

  • Many states allow 16 and 17-year-olds
  • Some states allow residents of the state who are not citizens
  • Some states allow poll workers to serve in other areas throughout the state
Are poll workers paid?

While some positions are volunteer, most local election offices pay poll workers a stipend that ranges between $75 – $500. Pay varies by location, shift length and number of days you’ll be working (i.e early voting polling sites need poll workers too!)

Can I be a poll worker if I have school?

Poll working is often an excused absence from school: 

  • Sign up to be a poll worker. 
  • Ask your teacher/professor to excuse you on Election Day to be a poll worker
  • Download and fill out an excused absence form
  • Ask the election office to complete it
  • Submit it to your teachers
Do poll workers receive training?

In most cases, yes – poll workers will be required to attend mandatory training that provides skills and information to serve in their roles. Requirements, length of training and format (in person or virtually) varies by jurisdiction, but training is generally a few hours.

Are poll workers with any special skills or backgrounds needed?

Yes, bilingual or multilingual poll workers, poll workers who identify with a historically marginalized community, poll workers under the age of 40 and do not have high-risk factors for complications from COVID-19.

How are poll workers being protected against COVID-19?

Poll workers will be in a public space and exposure to coronavirus is possible. Each jurisdiction is handling this differently:

  • Most jurisdictions will implement procedures to reduce the risk of exposure and protect poll workers (and voters)
  • Some jurisdictions will provide personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, and face shields. As your election officials what will be provided to you so you can take any additional precautions to make you comfortable.

We recognize this is a risk and you should too. Only those who feel comfortable should sign up to be a poll worker. You serve as a poll worker at your own risk.

Can poll workers only work part of the day?

Most jurisdictions require poll workers to work the full shift. Some may allow poll workers to sign up for a shorter shift. Sign up to be a poll worker and let your election office know your availability.

Is there flexibility on where poll workers serve?

In most jurisdictions, you will serve in the area where you are registered to vote or live. 

Some states allow poll workers to serve in other areas of the state, particularly if you are 18 or older. Poll workers may express to election officials their preferred location and with whom they’d like to serve, but these requests may not be granted for a variety of reasons.

When do poll workers vote?

Some jurisdictions require poll workers to vote early or absentee. Some poll workers cast their ballot on Election Day. Be sure to ask your election official for guidance after you sign up.

Additional Resources

Work Elections