Las Vegas, Atlanta, Counties Across US Plead for Young Poll Workers, Tout COVID-19 Safety Measures

Counties and election boards across the U.S. are pleading with residents to volunteer or sign up to be paid poll workers as overwhelmed polling locations try to persuade local residents they will be safe from coronavirus infection.

Election officials in Nevada's Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, have offered pay increases and repeated guarantees of worker safety as they try to double the amount of workers currently set to help during early voting and Election Day on November 3. Recruitment efforts in Alabama, Indiana and several Florida counties are hoping to draw in young people because elderly poll workers—traditionally the large majority of volunteers in an election year—are at more serious risk for COVID-19.

County officials around the country have teamed up with NBA teams, taken up social media recruitment campaigns and boosted hourly pay as they hope to keep polling sites open and well-staffed amid ongoing pandemic concerns. Election officials have reiterated for months that recruiting poll workers is hard any year, let alone one under threat of a virus.

"We need those poll workers; this vote is very important in 2020," Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas Monday. A total of 3,100 workers are needed for early voting and on Election Day itself—only half that number have come forth so far with only 60 days left between now and early voting. Clark County's early voting positions are open October 17-30 and on November 3 as well.

"We're going to need people to keep the voting equipment and the areas where people are signing in to vote sanitized," Gloria said of the position's duties. "We're going to need them to greet the voter and encourage them to social distance. We're providing the PPE [personal protective equipment] that is necessary."

According to a 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey conducted by Congress, two-thirds of poll workers are over the age of 61 and places like Charleston, West Virginia, have seen scores of veteran poll workers drop out this year over pandemic concerns.

In Georgia, the Atlanta Hawks and Fulton County election officials announced in June they were partnering to transform State Farm Arena into the state's largest-ever voting precinct, one crafted directly under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Hawks players and State Farm Arena employees are being trained to serve as election workers and support staff.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has taken to Facebook and other social media outlets to encourage anyone over the age of 18 to sign up and earn about $150 in places like Birmingham's Jefferson County.

The Indianapolis Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants is seeking young people in Marion County ahead of the elections. "A lot of our poll workers are older people," Adrianne Slash, a diversity and inclusion consultant with the Community Health Network, told WTHR-TV Monday. "So it's important for us to do what we can to help remove a barrier."

In Las Vegas, early voting poll workers will be paid $14 an hour and are expected to work between eight and 10 hours each day. Election Day poll workers will be paid between $225 and $250, depending on their specific duties. They are expected to work from 6:30 a.m. local time until 7:30 p.m. on November 3. Poll workers must also complete up to six hours of in-person training in the next few weeks before voting begins.

Despite the widespread need for poll workers and volunteers, the Republican Party has recruited about 50,000 "monitors"—mainly party activists and appointed volunteers—to keep an eye on potential fraud occurring across polling sites in 15 battleground states, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is promoting its website as one of the most direct ways for people to sign up as a local poll worker. Newsweek reached out to the group Tuesday afternoon for any additional recommendations for people considering working either early voting days or Election Day. Newsweek also reached out Tuesday afternoon to Clark County and Jefferson County officials.

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A voter is seen wearing a mask as they register at Brisbane City Hall polling booth, on March 28, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. Queensland local government elections and two state by-elections are going ahead on Saturday, despite concerns about people gathering at polling stations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities will be imposing social distancing measures, and with a record number of pre-poll and postal votes, believe the risk of spreading the coronavirus is low compared to other day-to-day activities like visiting the supermarket. JONO SEARLE / Stringer/Getty Images