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Want to make a huge difference in the upcoming November election—not only by voting, but by maintaining and protecting the integrity of the voting process itself? Volunteer to serve as a poll worker.

The need for new election workers has never been greater.

Amid Chinese coronavirus concerns, America is facing a “critical shortage” of poll workers for the 2020 presidential election, says the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent federal agency that acts as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.

The EAC declared September 1 as National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, a day of action to raise awareness about the importance of poll working and inspire more Americans to sign up to become election workers.

While local government officials oversee our elections, the primary responsibility for running polling places and serving voters on Election Day falls to citizens.

Most poll workers have traditionally been over the age of 61, according to the EAC, making them especially vulnerable to complications if they contract the coronavirus. This has resulted in a critical need for new workers to administer in-person voting.

“Recruiting poll workers is a challenge for many election officials across the country, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this need even more critical,” said EAC Chairman Ben Hovland. “We encourage Americans, who are able and willing to serve, to sign up to help America vote and work the polls on Election Day.”

In Texas, tens of thousands of citizens will be needed to staff polling places across the state on Election Day, November 3.

The governor also expanded the state’s usual 12-day early voting period by six days due to coronavirus concerns—meaning there will be even more poll worker shifts to fill starting on October 13.

Local election officials had a chance to implement the state’s new health protocols for in-person voting during the July 14 primary runoffs. Now they just need more citizens who are willing and prepared to serve.

Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet told Texas Scorecard his county isn’t facing a poll worker shortage at the moment, but they are actively working on a robust list of substitute workers in case people drop out between now and Election Day.

“Building a list of additional poll workers would be a great asset for staggering work schedules during the early voting period,” Sherbet said. “We gladly welcome people signing up for service as a poll worker.”

Poll workers must be eligible voters and serve in the county where they reside.

Early voting hours vary, but Election Day poll workers put in at least 12 to 14 hours, serving voters as well as securely setting up and closing down the polls.

Texas poll workers are paid (around $10-$12 an hour) and may receive extra pay for time spent attending mandatory training on election laws and procedures.

High school students who are at least 16 years old are encouraged to serve as student election clerks. They receive the same training and pay as other poll workers and are excused from school.

Well-trained poll workers are vital to ensuring our elections are run accurately and honestly. They are also on the front lines for preventing fraudulent activity at the polls, such as ineligible people casting ballots or voters being illegally intimidated to vote a certain way.

Texans willing to work at the polls can volunteer and get details by contacting their county election official or county party chair. Contact information is available on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

What better day to sign up than on National Poll Worker Recruitment Day?