Central Texas sees a surge in poll workers as some states struggle to fill positions

According to a survey by Pew Research, about six in 10 poll workers in the 2018 general election were over the age of 60.

With COVID posing a threat to that demographic, many places sought younger people to step up and help work elections.

“We have had a lot of people call in and ask to work,” Kathy Van Wolfe, the elections administrator of McLennan County said. “So far we’re in good shape with workers but each day changes and you know, you never know what tomorrow’s gonna bring.”

Party chairs in Bell County look to fill a few hundred spots each election, but they said the interest they’ve received this year has turned out greater than previous years.

“We were very concerned with the primary runoff, being able to have enough workers,” Chris Rosenberg, chairman of the Bell County Democratic Party said. “It’s just been a great source of pride to see so many people step up.”

You may think the surge of mail-in ballot requests would take stress away from finding workers, but that’s not the case.

“We expect to see people waiting for us to open the doors and so, always presidential elections [are our] highest turnouts,” Van Wolfe said. “We do expect to see probably about 65% of our registered voters during this election.”

In fact, poll workers have a new job this election…disinfecting voting equipment.

“We’re asking our poll workers to step up to be sanitation workers,” Rosenberg said. “We have to make sure that we’re providing a safe environment for voters and everyone in the polling location.”

Those measures include extra sanitation and workers providing caps for voter’s index fingers for a touch-less experience.

This work is all so Central Texans can fulfill their vital role in American democracy.

“I really want to say how proud I am as an American and as a Texan to see so many people participating in 2020,” Rosenberg said. “This has been a difficult year for everyone, and this election is the most important election of our lifetimes.”

Experts say voting early will help you avoid long lines many expect on Election Day due to a very long COVID-extended ballot with some local races never before seen on a presidential ballot.

—KXXV