This year’s election could witness some of the highest voter turnout in recent history. Over 4 million Americans have already voted, meaning that in-person voter turnout has the potential to be higher than ever before. With so many key issues on the line, it is critical that in-person voting locations are adequately staffed so voters can safely cast their ballot.
Coronavirus has proven to be a formidable challenge for the world, as well as our democracy, and in-person voting is rightfully a concern for voters who are immunocompromised or who are older individuals. It has been proven that the virus disproportionately impacts older Americans, and this election year we must work to provide every high-risk American with the tools, resources, and support they need to vote in-person. A sufficient number of poll workers helping out at polling locations is critical in achieving this goal.
It is estimated that over 900,000 poll workers are needed to operate in-person polling locations across the country. Unfortunately, Coronavirus has caused many poll workers, who are often older Americans, to choose to stay home in order to mitigate their risk of catching the virus, which has sparked serious concerns about in-person voting booths being fully staffed.
First-time poll workers, working in concert with seasoned veterans, will prove to be the key to running in-person voting locations which were previously projected to be short-handed. Now is the time for younger Americans who are less at-risk to step up and fill the role of serving as poll watchers so that in-person voting locations can keep their doors open, mitigate long lines, and allow for social distancing.
Thankfully, a growing number of young Americans signing up to work the polls on Election Day is providing hope that vulnerable members of our democracy will now be able to vote in-person in November. Thousands of young people have signed up to help out at the polls on Election Day, in large part due to the efforts of Power the Polls, and groups like AARP, the Association of Young Americans, New Leaders Council, and Rock the Vote. These groups are working diligently to amass and organize first-time poll workers to make sure that Election Day voting during the novel pandemic can go as smoothly as possible.
Safe and fully staffed in-person voting locations are key for allowing every voter to turn out on election day, including one of our nation’s most active and prominent voting blocs: older Americans. Voters in the 50-plus age bracket, who prefer to vote in-person, have consistently been a driving force every election year. This year is no different, and the Presidential candidates have taken notice. Both President Trump and former Vice President Biden recently held interviews with AARP, who has taken a leading role in emphasizing the importance of intergenerational poll workers, to talk about the issues that older Americans care most about. The interviews showcased the candidate’s stance on important topics that directly impact older generations, such as Medicare, Social Security, and reducing the price of prescription drugs.
We, as a nation, have been through so much in the last months. But now that we understand how the virus spreads, and more importantly, how to protect ourselves, we must focus on November. The mobilization of intergenerational poll workers is the first step towards achieving a safe in-person voting environment so that every American’s voice can be heard. The makeup of the poll workers on Election Day, as a result of adequately staffed in-person voting locations, will prove to be diverse in age thanks to first-time volunteers stepping up.