Understaffed Polling Places Amid Safety Concerns Before The Midterm Elections
In light of worries for their safety, hundreds of jurisdictions around the nation are reporting a scarcity of poll workers.
Cities like Philadelphia are rushing to repair the holes with the midterm elections less than two weeks away. It is providing poll workers with their first significant salary increase since the 1970s, $250 for shifts longer than 12.
According to Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir, whose office is hiring the more than 8,000 poll workers the city needs for the elections, “people don’t understand that the typical poll worker, they’re the ones that actually run the elections.”
It’s really a terrible indictment against America, he claimed, when people claim that things like elections are rigged and other things of this type.
The FBI has identified seven states, including Pennsylvania, where threats against poll workers have recently reached very high levels. It issued a warning last week about threats and stated that it would keep identifying, looking into, and mitigating them.
Al Schmidt, a former Republican city commissioner, claimed that the increased political pressure and the fear of violence are changing what was formerly a much lower-profile kind of public service. He received numerous threats against him and his family, including threats to kill his children, so he resigned from his position earlier this year.
You don’t anticipate having to take the police with you when you take your kids sledding in the snow or to the grocery store, he added, and you certainly don’t expect to be in charge of overseeing elections in a democracy.
According to a survey conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice earlier this year, almost one in three poll participants knew at least one coworker who left their position “in whole or in part due to safety concerns, increased threats, or intimidation.”
According to Schmidt, he is concerned that skilled election workers would keep leaving if the current threat environment continues.
“The risk is that we’ll lose more experienced election administrators than we already do, and they’ll be replaced by either people with less experience, who are more likely to make a mistake when administering an election and doing it in a setting where any mistake is perceived as being intentional and malicious in some way,” he said.
According to program manager Jane Slusser of the nonpartisan Power the Polls initiative, there are around 400 jurisdictions nationwide that are still in need of additional poll workers.
They do crucial tasks for our democracy, she declared. The polarization of our elections has received a lot of attention, but the individuals who are joining up with us say things like, “I don’t care who people vote for; it’s just about everyone in my town being able to cast their ballot.”