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Power the Polls recruits 500,000 poll workers

By Rachel Janfaza, CNN Politics | September 25, 2020

Power the Polls, an effort to recruit poll workers, has hit 500,000 sign-ups, the initiative announced Friday, doubling its goal of recruiting 250,000 poll workers.

The initiative was launched in June by a number of organizations, including Civic Alliance, Comedy Central, Fair Election Center, MTV and Pizza to the Polls, to address the potential lack of poll workers in the 2020 election as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Poll workers are essential to ensuring our elections are fair and safe for everyone, so we’re very pleased to see so many people step up during this pandemic,” Bob Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Center, told CNN. 

Power the Polls is using a database run by the Fair Elections Center that will provide information about becoming a poll worker, with up-to-date information for more than 4,000 jurisdictions.

“For the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time with our Work Elections program to gather the crucial data that is driving the Power The Polls effort. It’s gratifying to see it working so well at this crucial moment,” Brandon added. 

As the pandemic swept across the US earlier this year, organizers recognized the need to recruit poll workers after officials in Wisconsin had difficulty recruiting poll workers, and officials in Georgia and Kentucky reported poll worker shortages in their primaries.

Poll workers tend to be older, and fall into an age bracket more vulnerable to serious illness from coronavirus. The Pew Research Center reports 58% of poll workers were ages 61 and older in the 2018 midterms, a number similar to the 56% during the 2016 elections.

In part, the initiative seeks to mobilize member companies’ employees. It also aims to recruit Americans across the country.

Celebrities also are hopping on board.  “Veep” star and activist Julia Louis-Dreyfus spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the initiative Tuesday.

“I will say I think it’s a very patriotic act to sign up to work at a poll,” Louis-Dreyfus said.

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