Have you ever considered serving as an election worker? There's absolutely no question that the 2020 elections will have huge voter turnout and most counties in the U.S. will need nearly double the election workers they recruit for off-year elections.
A few years back, I noticed that nearly all of the election workers I encountered at the polls were retired people. Figuring that they could probably use some younger people, I signed up and began taking every election day off from my job to work at the polls instead.
After that first election, I decided to branch out a little and agree to be an assistant supervising judge. It sounds fancier than it is because all election workers are technically called "election judges" and sworn in before each election. The assistant supervising judge is the second-in-command at a polling place and in my county has some specific duties around opening and closing the polls.
For anyone thinking about stepping up, here are some pros and cons of being an election worker.
- It's not actually volunteer work - you do get paid a small stipend, sort of like jury duty.
- The work is an important community service and a lot of the voters will express their appreciation, which is nice.
- You learn a lot about how your own county's election office operates.
- There is a ton of training. My county pays a small amount for completing the training, but I try not to think about how much it is per hour because between regular training, hands-on training and assistant supervising judge training, I end up spending ~7 hours in class before every election. This is where you start to understand why so many election workers are retired; it's because those are the people who have that kind of free time available.
- Election days are LONG. You arrive for setup between 60 and 90 minutes before the polls open and the law requires that you stay there all day until after the polls close. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so it can easily be a 15-hour day.
- You'll be standing for a lot of that day. Election workers rotate between various jobs, but not many of them are done seated. On slow election days, there are more chances to sit down. On busy ones, you'll be on your feet for many hours.
The cons look heavy, but I obviously feel it's worth it anyway. At this point, I have my routine so down pat that I have a specific kind of sandwich I always bring. (French roll with pesto, fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes, all drizzled with balsamic vinegar, if you're curious.)
I'm working tomorrow's election, so I'm actually glad for the time change because it will help me get to my nearby polling location by 5:30 a.m.
Wherever you live, I hope you'll consider joining the ranks of election workers next year.