FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a poll worker?

Poll workers are a crucial part of the U.S. electoral process, and key to helping our democracy thrive. Poll workers ensure that each and every person who wants to cast their vote in person can do so safely and securely. No one should ever be denied their chance at the polls, and we should never have voters leaving a polling place due to long wait lines, confusion, or lack of accessibility. Poll workers are also needed to help process absentee ballots prior to Election Day (depending on state law) and may be needed if an election results in a contest or recount. Lawyers and law students are particularly primed for these roles–and will be needed since the usual work force, elder Americans, are likely to be unavailable as pandemic conditions persist.

Poll workers are the lifeblood of our democracy. By aiding in the operation of polling sites, they serve to ensure that polling locations are open, prepared, and running smoothly throughout Election Day so that every person is able to cast a ballot. They provide assistance with voting technology and answer any questions voters may have about the voting process. Essentially, poll workers ensure that each voter is able to exercise their right to vote on Election Day. They act as a safeguard to the integrity of our elections.

Our voting landscape is changing. The rules have become more complicated, more precincts are using new technology in order to collect ballots, and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, states are adapting to new safety concerns surrounding in-person voting. A new generation of poll workers is needed to meet these new challenges. Poll workers are key to free and fair elections. It is time for a new generation—our generation—to ensure accessibility and equity to the voting process.

What does a typical day for a poll worker look like on Election Day?

The work of a poll worker can and does vary across states and individual precincts, and we encourage you to check out your specific precinct’s information in order to have a complete picture of what your day at the polls will look like. With that in mind there are some general duties which most poll workers will experience:

  • Serve at a polling location. This may include: checking in voters, answering questions, setting up voting equipment and ensuring that it is working properly, issuing ballots, closing the polling location at end of day, etc.
  • Receive training from your local Election Official prior to Election Day. This training will ensure that you are prepared to answer voters’ questions, understand the voting process, and troubleshoot issues on Election Day. (Many states and/or precincts are now offering virtual training-check yours or ask ASAP!)
  • Be a voting resource! Many voters can and will have questions specific to your precinct’s unique situation. This can be from anything such as Voter ID laws, technological issues, accessibility issues, or language barriers. Your job is to assist to the best of your ability with this and other issues that may come up along with the rest of your poll station team.
  • Get paid! Many precincts pay poll workers for their work. In addition, some precincts will also pay you for your training.

What are the qualifications to be a poll worker in your state?

Qualifications for poll workers vary by state and by voting precinct. Generally, you need to be a resident of the precinct you plan to vote in and in some cases you need to be registered to vote. If you are 18+ you can sign up to be a poll worker directly with your states election office. 46 states allow people younger than 18 to work the polls, often through special programs at their high schools.

Learn About the Requirements in Your State Today

What is ASAP’s role?

ASAP is a national network of law students organizing to recruit poll workers.  If you are a law student interested in organizing in your state, a state election official looking for help recruiting young people to serve as poll workers, or an organization helping recruit poll workers for the November 2020 election, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at ASAP@wm.edu.

Is ASAP recruiting poll workers for Election Day only?

No! Many states need election workers prior to Election Day (for example, to process absentee ballots) or after Election Day (for example, if an election results in a recount). ASAP is committed to helping state election officials source capable young people able to step into these roles.