The county role in elections remains critical as U.S. commemorates National Poll Worker Recruitment Day
August 23, 2023, has been established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as National Poll Worker Recruitment Day. Commemorated each summer, National Poll Worker Recruitment Day serves as a day of action to encourage Americans to sign up as poll workers ahead of elections typically conducted in the fall. By encouraging poll worker registration, National Poll Worker Recruitment Day aims to address the nation’s critical shortage of poll workers, inspire greater civic engagement through volunteerism and to ultimately strengthen democracy by helping our nation vote.
As the EAC and communities across the nation prepare for this day of action, counties understand the importance of poll workers in the election administration process. Counties are typically responsible for the administration of elections, which includes overseeing polling locations and poll worker recruitment. In total, counties oversee over 630,000 poll workers each election cycle.
Counties also rely on a consistent, predictable and dedicated federal funding stream to assist with meeting federal requirements imposed on local governments to administer elections. A consistent federal funding stream would allow counties to prepare for future technology and security updates, recruit, train and retain high-quality poll workers.
In recent years, however, threats and harassment towards election officials has increased in both frequency and intensity. The Election Worker Protection Act (S. 1318), sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would increase penalties for individuals who threaten election workers or try to interfere with the electoral process and would authorize grants to assist states and certain local governments make safety improvements and recruit and retain election workers. NACo has endorsed this legislation and a detailed legislative analysis on the bill and its impact on counties can be found here.
In anticipation of National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, the EAC has published a new toolkit and customizable graphics to help election officials with poll worker recruitment. NACo encourages counties to utilize these resources across their communities to encourage Americans to sign up and serve as poll workers.
The County Role in Elections: How Counties Administer Secure and Accurate Elections
Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.
Retaining election officials will mean refusing to make harassment the new normal, reimagining elections offices and investing in elections.