With early voting for the midterm elections beginning in just 62 days, every major county in the state of Georgia is scrambling to find poll workers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports that election officials are looking to fill thousands of vacant spots.
Aug. 16 is National Help America Vote Day, a day created to recruit the nation’s much-needed poll workers.
Keisha Smith, elections director for DeKalb County, tells the AJC, “We’re looking to expand and to bring in new people until Election Day. I worry about everything ... but we’re on track to meet our numbers.”
RELATED STORY: Ruby Freeman and daughter Shaye Moss were defamed and berated. Trump, Giuliani are to blame
The job of a poll worker doesn’t come with high pay, and the hours can be long. Not to mention that following the 2020 presidential election, many election workers were subjected to threats and harassment from supporters of former President Donald Trump—those who denied the outcome of the election and win by Joe Biden.
Appearing before the Jan. 6 committee on June 21, Wandrea "Shaye" Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, famously gave some of the most powerful testimony. The two detailed the terror inflicted on them by a racist smear campaign led by Trump and his top campaign attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who baselessly alleged wrongdoing by Moss and Freeman during the 2020 election.
The two Georgia election workers were driven from their homes, threatened on social media, and left feeling afraid to go out in public. Even Moss’ grandmother was caught up in the fray, menaced by Trump supporters and the web of lies created by Trump and Giuliani.
“It was just a lot of horrible things there,” Moss told the House select committee, adding that many of the social media comments directed at the women “were racist” and “hateful.”
Those hateful threats have likely helped lead to a nationwide shortage of poll workers.
According to ABC News, 130,000 U.S. poll workers have stopped serving in the past three midterm elections. And the Brennan Center for Justice reports that 20% of local poll workers said they were “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to work the 2024 election. In addition to Georgia, California, New York, and Texas have reported shortages of election workers, per ABC News.
However, despite the low pay and threats by the MAGA sycophants, Politifact reports that many poll workers remain undeterred.
"Democracy has been challenged, and it’s all based around voting," says Robin Levin, a retired schoolteacher and poll worker in Florida’s Broward County. "Our whole democracy is voting, and when you lose voting, you have no democracy. That’s my biggest fear. That is my whole reason to get more involved.”
Many of Georgia’s election officials are confident the shortage will resolve itself before the midterms. Some counties have even raised the pay for poll workers to help ensure that.
Starting pay is $15 per hour in DeKalb County. The day rate is $175 in Fulton County, $150 in Cobb County, and $120 in Gwinnett County, according to the AJC.
Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson said, “We’re recruiting them up to the last minute. … I don’t think we’ve ever gone into an election where we’ve met every goal for poll workers—even when it was patriotic to be a poll worker.”
To fill the gap, Vet the Vote is aiming to recruit 100,000 veterans and their relatives to work the polls nationwide. “A shortage of poll workers creates operational challenges, including polling places being closed, disproportionately impacting communities of color,” the website reads.
Joe Plenzler, a Marine Corps veteran and an elections judge responsible for administering voting procedures in Charles County, Maryland, told ABC News, “Veterans are made of stern stuff, we have been to war and aren’t easily intimidated. … I found that other volunteers in the polling site are more reassured working alongside veterans who have been to war.”
We need democracy warriors to help people exercise their right to vote this November. Sign up to be a poll worker at Power the Polls.