On the front page of every newspaper, you’ve read about important litigation to make voting safe and secure in the midst of a pandemic. The goal is simple: let every eligible voter cast a ballot and ensure every ballot cast is counted. To achieve this goal, plaintiffs in over a dozen states have sued to require that states provide postage-paid envelopes and notify voters if their ballots have been rejected due to a technical defect. In other states, such as Virginia, legislators enacted changes to ensure every vote is counted, including contacting voters to notify them to correct a missing or mismatching signature.
But what happens when these lawsuits succeed? That’s just the first step. Who will perform the work that is required to process voter registration cards and absentee ballot requests? Who will review signatures on vote-at-home ballots and contact voters to alert them that they forgot to sign their ballot? Hundreds—if not thousands—of Americans are needed to do all of this work in the next six weeks.
That’s where you and your friends come in. There are lots of ways you can step up. You can serve as a poll worker. You can get involved with a national or local campaign. You can also serve as a temporary election worker to help make sure this election runs as smoothly as possible. Many of these positions are paid. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, for example, a “Voter Participation Specialist” is paid $17/hour and is “responsible for assisting with the registration of voters and processing and issuance of absentee ballots,” among other tasks. In Maricopa County, Arizona, there are both paid and volunteer opportunities to help the Elections Department. Communities across the country need your help.
Here are some examples of jurisdictions that are recruiting election workers:
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Detroit, MI
- Grand Rapids, MI (contact directly; paid, 4-hour shifts available beginning 9/18)
2020 has already been an unprecedented year. There are still many questions about how the November election will play out. But one thing remains constant: A democracy only works if its people keep it working. Do your part, tell your friends and support democracy in your community.
Michael Gaffney was the National Ballot Access and Delegates Director on Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. He is currently an advisor to DigiDems, an organization that embeds full-time tech, digital and data talent on some of the nation’s most competitive races.