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If you have any concerns about election integrity, the best way to learn more is to actually help run one. Sign up to be a poll worker/election judge (or whatever your city or county calls them.)

Why is this important? In 2016 there were over 116,000 polling places in over 8800 separate jurisdictions. Over 65% of election officials said it was difficult to find people willing to help.

In 2016 those 116,000 polling places were staffed by almost 918,000 citizens. Think about that: almost one million people ran the 2016 election. (The number was about 775,000 for 2020, but that was a pandemic year.) Of those citizens, a little over half were either seniors, or skating pretty close to it. This means we need younger poll workers to learn the ropes and replace the older ones as they retire. At 85, my friend Lois is finally ready to pass on the baton. She’s smart and active and amazing, but really struggled during the training to learn how to use iPads to check in and register voters on election day. Younger poll workers will be better able to adjust to the changing technology.

Anyone over the age of 18 who speaks English can be a poll worker. “But I have a job!” you say. Guess what: Employers are required to give you time off without any reduction in pay. And you’ll be paid for your 2-3 hours of training, and your time on Election day.

Payment varies by state, but falls somewhere between $100-200…Yup, that’s $200 total. And the days are long, from 6 am to 9 pm. Clearly, people don’t step up to be election workers for the money. They do it to be part of an amazing experience that brings all citizens together to choose the people to represent them. And it feels good to be involved. I was an election judge in 2020, and will be one again this year. I believe my job is to make the voting process go as smoothly as possible and to ensure that every person eligible to vote may do so without interference.

Consider adding “Serving as a poll worker” to your To-Do list. Those who participate in our democracy are less likely to take it for granted.

 

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The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.

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Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.