Home Tech Poll workers are already exhausted and on high alert

Poll workers are already exhausted and on high alert

0 comment
Poll workers are already exhausted and on high alert

“They’re exhausted,” Tammy Patrick, executive director of the National Association of Election Officials, which has 1,800 members across the United States, tells WIRED. “People are tired and we haven’t even started the election cycle this year. “They are still under attack, they are still receiving death threats since 2020.”

They are also trying to simply do their job and make sure that eligible voters can vote and that politicians on the ballot accept the results no matter what. “As a nation, we’re holding our breath to see if that happens,” Patrick says.

According to a new report published this week by the Bipartisan Policy CenterThe level of poll worker turnover has skyrocketed dramatically since 2020, with researchers seeing a nearly 40 percent increase in resignations between 2004 and 2022.

“It is difficult to recruit people who are able to withstand the intense pressure that has become inherent to election administration,” Stuart Holmes, director of elections in Washington state, told WIRED. “We often find that people love election administration and stick with it for life, or abandon it after six months.”

In some cases, as in Buckingham County, VirginiaEntire electoral offices have resigned due to threats.

“We have examples across the country where the entire office quit because they simply couldn’t go to work every day and were inundated with death threats,” Patrick said. “It is not the kind of situation that one would imagine in the case of the United States of America. “It’s the kind of thing we would think about in struggling new democracies, where they don’t have the traditions that many of us now take for granted, like concessions when you lose.”

Leslie Hoffman, who ran the elections office in Yavapai County in Arizona, where Guards guarded mailboxesresigned in 2022. At that time, she cited “evil” of the threats he received. He later told WIRED that he actually resigned because his dog was poisoned just before he left his position. No one was ever arrested or charged, but she believes it was related to her election work.

For election officials and workers who have remained in office, they now face the year 2024 and will already have to cover departed colleagues whose positions remain vacant, including at least one election director position.

According the Brennan Center surveyone in five of the officials who will work on the 2024 vote will do so for the first time.

“Institutional knowledge is very important. Employee turnover in an election administration can look like not knowing how to set up, opening the polling place late, or directing people to the wrong place,” Christina Baal-Owens, executive director of voting rights organizations Public, tells WIRED. Wise. “There is also the cost of training and hiring. Hiring costs money and recruiting costs money. “It is a waste of resources.”

Baal-Owens also notes that the loss of experienced employees may have less obvious impacts: “Voting is incredibly local, and in many communities, older people are the ones voting and have relationships with the people who have been administering their elections. So losing those relationships is also very important. Losing that institutional knowledge is a problem.”

You may also like