When you volunteer as an election poll worker, you play an important role in engaging your community by ensuring individuals can cast their votes for elected officials of their choice. Volunteers are essential for polling sites to run smoothly on Election Day, and every volunteer is important to the success of local polling sites.
Who Can Volunteer?
Volunteers will need to meet a few basic criteria, although the requirements vary by state. To participate, you may need to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Meet the age requirement, typically 16 years old or older
- Have proof of residency in the state
- Have proof of registration to vote in the state
- Confirm your party affiliation, particularly in primary elections
Poll workers are also required to attend a training session and be able to work the full day on Election Day. Online resources such as Work Elections and Election Protection provide individuals interested in volunteering with key details for their location, such as volunteer requirements, hours, and compensation.
Responsibilities of Election Poll Workers
Depending on where you volunteer and the needs of the location, you may be assigned to one of the following poll worker positions: clerk, assistant clerk, equipment operator, inspector, or deputy. Some volunteers will be assigned to sit at a table and distribute ballots. Others will greet voters and direct them through the process. Site coordinators may step outside occasionally to be sure individuals handing out political messaging are staying the proper distance away from the polling location.
Here are a handful of volunteer duties you could be tasked with:
- Organizing a location prior to polls opening
- Checking in voters
- Distributing ballots
- Instructing voters on voting machine use
- Answering questions
- Keeping the voting location organized
Time commitments will vary between locations as the hours of local polling sites are not the same in every state. When committing to volunteering, be prepared for a long day on Election Day.
Encouraging Others in Your Community to Vote
Of course, it is not always possible to commit to the hours needed to be an election volunteer. But if you are not available to be an election poll worker, there are other ways you can promote voting in your community. Go to the polls with friends before a morning coffee meetup, or reach out to members of your book club or community group and remind everyone to vote.
There are many benefits of volunteering in your community. Poll workers and community groups who encourage voting strengthen our democracy. Individuals who volunteer their time are helping to secure free and fair elections in the US. Inspired to give back to your community? Check out more ideas on the @tomsofmaine Natural Inspiration Pinterest board!
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Why It's Good
When you volunteer as an election poll worker, your volunteer hours are a form of civic engagement that helps to guarantee efficient and convenient voting for everyone in your community.