Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Volunteering on Election Day


My parents never voted in an election, but as soon as I turned 18, I registered to vote. For about 20 years, I voted in every primary and general election. Then in 2012, I worked on a campaign for a friend who was running for our local school board. When she won, I found myself wanting to do more, so I started volunteering on Election Day.

For the first few years, I greeted voters outside my local polling place and handed out sample ballots. It was fun talking to neighbors and meeting new people in my community. Sometimes, the candidates would stop by and talk with voters about key issues. It was a great way to learn about local politics.

Then, I was asked to work inside the polling place. I was thrilled, since only a handful of people get to work inside. As a poll worker, I help voters sign in, show them how to cast their ballots, and answer their questions. I also give out the “I Voted” stickers, which is the fun part of my job.

Benefits of Civic Engagement

There are so many benefits to working on Election Day. It’s exciting to help first-time voters cast their ballots. I meet new neighbors and reconnect with older ones. I am part of a trusted team of poll workers for my precinct. We are moms, dads, grandparents, writers, plumbers, veterans, retirees, and students. Our team has been working together for years. And even though we have different political affiliations, we all work toward the same goal — ensuring that everyone gets to vote.

The downside of working the polls is that we start at 6 a.m. and wrap up around 9 p.m. It’s a long day, so coffee and snacks are essential.

Lots of Options to Get Involved

If working all day at the polls isn’t possible, there are other ways you can participate in the voting process, such as:

  • Voter registration drives. These events help non-registered voters complete forms so they can participate in future elections.
  • Canvassing. This involves going door-to-door in a neighborhood to discuss a candidate’s platform and remind people to vote.
  • Phone/text banking. Use your phone to connect with voters, share candidate information, and remind them to vote. The candidate’s office provides a list of phone numbers and a prepared script, so you know what to say.
  • Poll greeters. Greeters hand out sample ballots and welcome voters outside polling places. Poll greeters usually work in two-to-three-hour shifts, so this is an easy way to volunteer on Election Day without making an all-day commitment.
  • Voter transportation. If you have a car, you can give rides to people who cannot drive to their polling place.
  • Poll watching. Poll watchers ensure that people are voting safely, securely, and in accordance with all local and federal laws. This is particularly important for voters who may be at risk for intimidation or discrimination, such as new voters, minority voters, and voters who have disabilities.

Most of these are volunteer positions, but there are some jobs you can get paid for. If you’re interested in being a poll worker or a poll watcher, you may need to attend in-person or online training sessions, based on your local or state laws. Contact your local Board of Elections for more details.

Resources

For more information on how you can help get out the vote, check out these resources:

Regardless of which political party you support, there are lots of opportunities to volunteer during the election cycle. Primary election dates vary by state, but the general election is always in early November. So, you’ve got plenty of time to think about volunteering between now and Election Day.

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