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How Do You Become a Poll Worker or Election Judge?

MADISON, WI - APRIL 07: A National Guard member works on election day at a polling location on April 7, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. Residents in Wisconsin went to the polls a day after the U.S. Supreme Court voted against an extension of the absentee ballot deadline in the state. Because of the coronavirus, the number of polling places was drastically reduced. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)
By Ashley Ravid on October 14, 2020

The much-anticipated 2020 presidential election is approaching quickly, and many states are begging for more volunteers to become poll workers and election judges. What do you need to know about beginning this process?

What Do I Need To Know or Do?

Poll workers are the in-person volunteers who set up and monitor polling stations on Election Day and on early voting days in some states. Requirements for poll workers vary between states and counties, so it's important to familiarize yourself with your local laws.

Election judges fill similar roles, and some may also have the responsibility of supervising and settling election law disputes that may arise. Some election judges must be appointed, while others must complete online training before Election Day. Both poll workers and election judges receive a stipend in exchange for their work.

Many places will also allow you to digitally file the necessary paperwork to become a poll worker or election judge. You can learn more about the process of becoming a poll worker by doing an online search of your county's rules and regulations.

Some localities may have age requirements or mandate that you be a U.S. citizen or green card holder, but a constant necessity is that you are available to work the polls between about 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Election Day, November 3.

Why Are Volunteers Needed?

According to MarketWatch, more than 61% of poll workers in the 2016 election were elderly. With seniors being the most vulnerable to coronavirus complications, it's important for younger volunteers to aid the polling process in their stead.

In a country of 330 million people and over 100,000 polling stations, it's not possible for the election to run smoothly without the manpower to help it do so. If you can, begin the process to volunteer as a poll worker or election judge today. Remember to wear a mask and register to vote so that your voice can be a part of the democratic process. It takes a village to run a nation!

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