PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The pandemic is causing a massive shortage of poll workers in Philadelphia, especially as older people, who usually fill the positions, are opting to stay home. Officials are putting out a call for young, healthy adults to sign up to become poll workers because of the effects COVID can have on older people.
“Trying to recruit the millennials. We want millennials to stand up for democracy,” said Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir.
Sabir says his office is working to make sure at least 700 polling locations are open in the city on Election Day for those who want to vote in person.
“We’re going to need poll workers to do it. COVID-19 has caused a shortage,” he said.
The average age of poll workers in Philadelphia is 60.
“A lot of people have fears of catching COVID,” Sabir said.
But for those who are interested, a poll job in Philadelphia pays $115 for the day. That day begins around 6:15 a.m. and ends shortly after 8 p.m.
The job usually includes opening voting machines, checking voters into the polling place and closing up at night. Workers also have to attend training.
But most importantly, without enough poll workers, elections officials say long lines could deter voters.
“We don’t want to disenfranchise any voters. We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard,” Sabir said.
Officials in Montgomery, Bucks and Chester Counties didn’t respond for comment. But in Delaware County, there is similar concern about a shortage of poll workers.
“Delaware County has obtained funds to increase pay to the state maximum for this election, subject to Election Board approval, and is actively recruiting emergency poll workers who would agree to be deployed as needed. The County Election Bureau is also working with its longstanding stakeholders, the political parties and other voting advocacy groups, to find poll workers for those municipalities with vacancies,” said Councilwoman Christine Reuther.
State leaders are also working to attract more poll workers by tweaking state rules.
“One change would allow the county to begin filling polling place vacancies several weeks before an election, rather than the current five days before the election. The other change we are seeking, which was allowed temporarily for the primary, would allow registered voters to work in any polling place in the same county where they are registered,” said Wanda Murren of the PA Department of State.
If you want to sign up to be a poll worker in Philadelphia, click here.