With Election Day right around the corner, voters are working to ensure that they can cast their ballot and that their votes will be counted properly. Many have already cast their vote by absentee or mail-in ballots, but going to polling places will remain an overwhelmingly popular method this year. Concerns about impractically-long polling lines, COVID-19, voter fraud and voter suppression at the polls have been raised in the past weeks and months.
As Drexel students, we can address some of these concerns by volunteering as poll workers on November 3. College students are both old enough to work at the polls and young enough that they are at lower risk of contracting COVID-19. The Daily Pennsylvanian, the University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper, is also calling for Penn students to work at polls.
Since the Drexel Recreation Center is a polling place and Pennsylvania is one of the largest swing states, we can do important work for this election without leaving campus. Drexel announced it will close at 2 p.m. on Election Day, and has asked that professors provide asynchronous classes and flexibility for students, including for those volunteering as poll workers. Drexel also provides staff paid time for voting.
“Through the Civic Engagement Leave Policy, benefit-eligible professional staff members receive up to 16 hours of paid time each year to use for civic engagement activities, including one hour of paid time off to vote,” Drexel’s Human Resources website states.
To become a poll worker, first ensure that you are registered to vote at a Pennsylvania address. Then, you can visit votes.pa.com and fill out a poll worker interest form. If your application is accepted, you will be contacted. Those selected to work the polls on Election Day will complete paid training, and will have a unique opportunity to help their community while gaining resume-worthy experience.
The three main positions include the Judge of Elections, who oversees the entire polling place, as well as the Majority Inspector and the Minority Inspector, both of whom work in conjunction with the Judge of Elections to manage the polling place, according to the Votes PA website.
A fourth position, the Clerk and Machine Inspector, is responsible for assisting with voter check-in, managing lines and briefly educating voters how their vote will be cast.
Polling hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, and poll workers will be compensated for their time. Those who are fluent in multiple languages, including American Sign Language, are especially needed.
This year’s election is an undeniably important one, and we have an opportunity to ensure that our local polling stations are at least run fairly, safely and in such a way that voters are confident that their vote will be counted as it was cast. On top of this, Pennsylvania, unlike other states, does not allow mailed ballots to be counted until Election Day morning. This also means that the poll workers will struggle to count the immense number of mailed ballots if they are understaffed; we can help to get results sooner if we have more poll workers. So, if you can, consider applying to work the polls on November 3.