Officials Call for More Young Poll Workers as COVID-19 Puts Older Workers at Risk

Sep 1, 2020

The lobby of the Board of Elections office on 1000 Erie Blvd. W. in Syracuse.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

The young people who were a big part of this summer’s social movements, marches and protests could also play a key role in the upcoming election.  November’s election could face a shortage of poll workers. About 58% of people who worked past elections are over age 60 according to the Pew Research Center, a group most vulnerable to coronavirus and some are expected to stay away. 

New York City Council member Antonio Reynoso encourages younger people to fill the gap.

“They can literally be the difference between somebody coming out to vote for the first time and whether or not they are going to continue to vote. Or, ensuring that the one person that can’t wait 30 minutes on a line gets through in 25 minutes or hopefully faster,” he said. “There’s so many reasons how one poll worker can make a huge difference.”

He also notes many millennials and those younger are involved in societal change and helping elections is a necessary part.

“We’re talking about folks that are out there fighting for Black Lives Matter, they’re marching in the streets, they’re electing young elected officials, they’re getting involved in party politics, there’s so many layers of what young people are doing nowadays, this has to be part of that conversation.”

The election is expected to have huge participation, so Reynoso says that’s another reason to help.       
“This is probably going to be one of the highest turnout elections since (2008), Barack Obama. So because of that, we think we’re going to have more people and less staffing, unless young people step up and say that they’re going to be helpful. That is a huge concern,” Reynoso said.

Couple that with early voting, and the need for poll workers will be high, something younger, politically active New Yorkers could help solve.

To get involved, learn more about becoming a poll worker this fall. Additional information available here for residents of Onondaga County, Oneida County, Oswego County and Madison County.