By: Nick Schaefer
Our Goods users understand how purchases turn into corporate contributions, but awareness of how corporate money affects politics is only one part of being civically engaged. While Goods users vote with their wallet year-round, it remains critically important that all citizens have the opportunity to conveniently vote on election day. The ongoing public health crisis has made it increasingly difficult to ensure that we are equipped for November 3, 2020, which isn’t Good!
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, two thirds of all jurisdictions faced difficulties in recruiting poll workers in 2016. With about 60% of poll workers from 2018 being over the age of 60, many of us are concerned about the safety and health of these workers.
Within our home state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee has faced extreme challenges in recruiting and maintaining poll workers. Following the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to overturn the postponement of the Wisconsin spring primary, only 5 of the usual 180 polling places remained open on election day due to safety concerns. To make matters worse, these poll closures disincentivize many Milwaukee residents from voting. This results in extreme disenfranchisement in one of the country’s largest cities. A repeat of these closures would be devastating for those who want a fair and legitimate election this fall.
Some companies have recognized these concerns and encouraged their employees to take action. Old Navy, Target, Warby Parker, Starbucks, and Patagonia have all encouraged their employees to take paid time off to work the polls. Similarly, the NFL and NBA have volunteered their arenas and stadiums to be used as polling places due to their downtown location and ample space to provide a socially distanced experience.
Still, despite these efforts, many polling places are at risk of being severely understaffed or needing to be shut down altogether. With this in mind, we wanted to share some quick information about how to work as a poll worker and help save our democracy. Power the Polls is actively working to staff polling places with younger and healthier poll workers who are less at-risk of contracting and facing severe symptoms of COVID-19. Their efforts to sign up 250,000 poll workers has served to improve the safety, efficiency, and legitimacy of the upcoming election.
If you would like to learn more about how to become a poll worker, check out Power the Polls, which can help walk you through the process. All poll workers receive proper PPE and training, are also compensated for their work, and join the companies above and many others in the effort to protect the most important aspect of our democracy – the vote!