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York County hiring teenagers as a way to combat poll worker shortage

"We’ve been reaching out to high school students to draw awareness to the need to have young folks engaged in the process."

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — A shortage of poll workers is impacting election officials across the nation and here in Pennsylvania. 

The poll worker shortage has been something that has impacted Pennsylvania for many years and the pandemic only exacerbated that shortage.

“Especially with the older adults that have served as poll workers for many, many years. A lot of them decided not to be poll workers in 2020, because they didn’t feel safe doing so," said Pa. Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman.

However, officials in York County say it’s not an issue they’re seeing, thanks in part to a new initiative.

"We’ve been reaching out to high school students to draw awareness to the need," said York County Commissioner President Julie Wheeler.

Chapman says one thing counties should take advantage of is hiring 17-year-olds to be poll workers. 

“It’s a good way to have young people engaged in the electoral process early before they can even vote themselves," said Chapman. 

In order to sign up, the teens need permission from their parents and a guidance counselor or high school teacher. York County has about 20 students that have signed up to work this election cycle and anticipate there will be more students signing up this week.

“Hopefully their enthusiasm as they participate in the process they’ll share with their friends, and hopefully encourage their friends to get involved the next time around," said Wheeler. 

They go through the same training process as other poll workers.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for them to learn about the process and what goes into running an election," said Wheeler. 

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