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Normally, the people working the polling sites during elections are made of up senior citizens, but this year, hundreds are opting out over concerns about the coronavirus, creating a drastic shortage of poll workers for the November election.

However, many cities across the nation now say they have more than enough poll workers, after receiving thousands of applications from young people – many from high school students too young to vote, who have been recruited to help, according to a report published by USA Today on Thursday.

The report, titled, “Not old enough to vote, but old enough to help: How teens are helping to avert an election crisis,” begins:

Like thousands of other teenagers, Abhinand Keshamouni’s introduction to working the polls came from watching “The Daily Show.”

Host Trevor Noah ends each episode with a pitch for Power the Polls, a national recruitment network working to ensure there are enough poll workers on Election Day. The message resonated with Keshamouni, a 17-year-old senior from Canton, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

He signed up first for the Michigan state primary in August. And he will be back at a polling site Nov. 3, when he will take off a day from his high school that’s conducting classes online. Keshamouni will be among more 1 million poll workers braving a pandemic to ensure people can vote – and he got four of his buddies to do the same.

“I thought it was a really good way to help our democracy, especially because I can’t vote right now,” Keshamouni said, adding that he also got a little pressure from his parents, Indian immigrants who will be voting in their first presidential election. “My entire family can vote except for me, so they were like, ‘Go work the polls!’ “

Below is one of Trevor Noah’s videos recruiting teenagers to work at the polls.

“Fewer poll workers will mean fewer polling stations will be open, which means longer lines that not everyone can afford to stay and wait in. Especially people of color in working class areas,” he declares.

“Most poll working is paid, and in some states, you can be as young as 16 to do it. So if you’re interested, this is your chance to save Granny, protect your Democracy, and get paid,” Noah announced.

USA Today notes that “an army of voting rights groups and other organizations this summer waged the most robust poll-worker recruitment campaign in modern election history.” The effort has been aided by high-profile people like Noah, and NBA star LeBron James, “whose recently formed More Than a Vote organization has worked to increase poll workers in predominantly Black districts.”

The effort to get young people to work the polls has been wildly successful. Cities such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston say they have “thousands” more applications than they even need.

In the Atlanta area, Fulton County received 7,000 applications for 2,900 poll-worker positions.

In Houston, over 4,500 high school students will be working the polls in November. The county received 25,000 poll worker applications for the 11,000 poll-worker positions they needed to fill. They’re reportedly paying workers $17 per hour.

Detroit also says they have more than enough people to cover the 6,000 election worker positions – one-third of those who will be needed to count absentee ballots.

Philadelphia says they received “thousands” of poll worker applications – so many they haven’t even been able to contact everyone who has applied.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is helping out in the effort to recruit poll workers. The Center for Tech and Civic Life, described as a “Chicago, Illinois-based center-left election reform advocacy group formed in 2012,” received a $250 million donation from Zuckerberg “to provide grants to cities to support the staffing and training of poll workers,” the USA Today report states.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Are poll workers typically volunteers, and this year they’re getting paid $17/hour? Or have they always been paid for working??

    • Hahaha, they aren’t allowed in classrooms in most places. The fact that seniors aren’t working g the poles because of the virus just gives .ore power to the li tards to push mail in ballots that they can cheat with

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