In honor of National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is once again partnering with Power the Polls to recruit poll workers for the 2022 election season. In 2020, LDF joined forces with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote and Power the Polls to recruit over 42,000 potential poll workers. This year, LDF’s work with Power the Polls includes a public awareness campaign for potential poll workers detailing the different roles played by poll workers, poll watchers, and nonpartisan poll volunteers.
With crucial elections happening across the U.S. this fall, the initiative could not be timelier. Election administrators are already reporting a lack of poll workers. Without enough poll workers, access to the ballot box itself is threatened — not only by interminably long lines to vote, but also by the possibility that polling locations will be shuttered due to the lack of election staff able to run them. The deadline and requirements to apply to be a poll worker vary by state, while pay and training may vary by county or local election jurisdiction.
“Democracy isn’t just a form of government; it’s a practice,” said Anne Houghtaling, Deputy Director of LDF’s in-house think tank, the Thurgood Marshall Institute, “and we are very optimistic about the potential this campaign has to raise awareness now — before it is too late — concerning the lack of poll workers currently available for this year’s elections.”
“We urgently need more people, especially younger people and people from communities of color, to sign up to be a poll worker, and we are so thrilled to have LDF’s support in this critical work,” said Jane Slusser, Program Manager at Power the Polls. “Every day, we hear from election administrators who are sounding the alarm about poll worker shortages in states across the country. This Poll Worker Recruitment Day, we’re working to ensure that anyone who wants to cast their ballot in this year’s election is able. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we were blown away by the hundreds of thousands of individuals who stepped up for their local communities and signed up to be poll workers, and we are looking forward to seeing the same energy again this year.”
In communities of color and low-income communities, especially, poll workers are critical to ensuring safe in-person voting for communities without reliable access to mail service, voters with disabilities, voters who need language assistance, or for voters who simply want to cast their ballot in-person as they always have.
By activating its nonpartisan support networks of business, media, and nonprofit partners — as well as individual influencers — Power the Polls will make a concerted push to raise public awareness of the problem, recruit new potential poll workers, and provide resources to increase the number of viable applications.
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.