HARRISBURG, Pa. — On Election Day, tens of thousands of poll workers are the ones making sure voting runs smoothly. With just over a month to go before the November midterms, Pennsylvania counties are recruiting.
In past elections, some counties struggled to find enough people to serve as poll workers.
“There has been an issue of not enough for many years. Counties are always looking for additional poll workers,” said Jonathan Marks, Pa. deputy secretary for elections and commissions.
The poll worker shortage hit a high during the 2020 election, amid the coronavirus pandemic and an uptick in threats against election officials.
“Having to deal with threats certainly makes it even less desirable,” Marks said.
So far this year, election officials said a national focus on the democratic process has engaged more voters. Lebanon County has already filled its 420 openings and has a waiting list.
“Since I started in the role, I’ve never seen so many come in. Every day we’re getting quite a few people inquiring about working here,” said Lebanon County Director of Elections Sean Drasher.
The election offices in Dauphin and York counties also confirmed they were on track to fill all poll worker positions.
The ranks are still far from full, though. About 3,000 people have signed up statewide to be poll workers, according to the Department of State. Pennsylvania needs about 50,000 poll workers this election.
If you’re interested in becoming a poll worker, you can sign up through the Department of State.
Those selected must attend at least one training, either in-person or online. The trainings vary by county, but usually include how to inspect voter identification, process ballots and handle emergency situations.
On Election Day, poll workers can expect to begin before polling places open at 7 a.m. and stay until after they close at 8 p.m.
Poll workers are paid between $75 and $200 a day.
Election officials say the experience of being a poll worker is worth the effort.
"Poll worker recruitment has always been a challenge for election offices. State and local officials are working hard to fill these positions and provide training so voting and Election Day will run smoothly. Being a poll worker is one of the best ways to experience how elections are run, see democracy at work and give back to our country. I encourage Pennsylvanians to learn how to sign up at helpamericavote.gov and help in their community," said Thomas Hicks of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
To be eligible, you must be a registered voter living in the county to which you’re applying to work. Students who are at least 17 years old can volunteer as well, depending on the county. Those ineligible include most current government employees and political candidates who are on the ballot.