According to estimates, there could be a shortage of more than 250,000 poll workers for the 2020 general election that’s set to take place in November. The reason for this is the Covid-19 global pandemic, and the number of elderly poll workers across the country that would be taking the election off because they’re more susceptible to the coronavirus.
Statistics by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission show that 58 percent of poll workers in the 2018 general election were older than 60, which sums up to a huge number.
Bob Brandon, the President of the Fair Elections Center, told NPR that we’re talking about enormous number of poll workers who don’t feel comfortable going in the polling places in the midst of a global pandemic. The health is their main concern, which is completely understandable.
In order to fill that number, the Fair Elections Center started off an initiative called Power the Polls, which aims to recruit more than 250,000 poll workers for the upcoming election.
According to the initiative, they’re looking for “low-risk and diverse poll workers that can staff in-person voting locations during early voting and on Election Day”.
Clothing giant Old Navy was the first big company to step in, and they informed that they will give their employees a full day’s pay to work the polls, regardless of their work schedule.
“We learned that America is facing a record shortage of poll workers, estimated at 250,000. We saw a unique opportunity to tap into our community-minded workforce to serve this need and make a meaningful impact,” – said Nancy Green, the Head of Old Navy.
Additionally, Old Navy will make sure that all employees will be able to cast their ballots by offering three hours of paid time off on Election Day.
A recent study conducted by Pew Research reported that more than two-thirds of Americans have said that they would support a law to make Election Day a national holiday. In fact, the Democrats passed a bill in the House that would make it a national holiday, but it didn’t pass the GOP-controlled senate.