Pate says the coronavirus has them changing their approach. “Normally Iowa’s poll workers tend to come from age groups that are more vulnerable — our senior population. Because they are more susceptible to this COVID-19, we know we want to shift here, so we are asking some of our more younger folks in the state to be a part of that key group to help us out,” Pate explains.
He says one requirement is that you are 17 or older. “Looking for folks who have some dedication and will help us out for a one-day commitment on June second. It is paid position, but it is really about the public service side of it,” Pate says. Pate is hoping to get a good response to fill the need.
He says there may be people who are not able to work at their normal job and have some time to work the primary. “And our younger folks — for example — many of them are just starting to get a taste if you will of what they can do to help and what they can do to give back to their communities. Certainly, this would be a great way for them to get in on the ground floor. We need some of those younger, healthy Iowans to help us staff our polling locations,” he says.
Pate says they may not need as many poll workers this time, because his office is encouraging people to vote by mail to reduce the COVID-19 risk. “We put a big push on and we’re seeing a lot of folks using that option this time so that we don’t have to have as many polling locations,” according to Pate. “But we still need to have adequate numbers. So, whatever we get for poll worker recruiting will really dictate how many polling stations we can set up. We want to avoid lines and we want to make sure the process goes as smoothly and as safely as we can. And the more folks who sign up the better.”
He encourages anyone who is interested to sign up on the website pollworker.Iowa.gov.
“There’s a couple of things there. A short video about what a poll work is and does that they might find interesting, invaluable,” Pate says. “And then there’s a short little form they fill and then they click and it gets sent to the local county of their jurisdiction of their auditor. And then the auditor will reach out and get them set up.”
He says the auditor will work to match you up with work that you are comfortable with doing. For instance, someone who is interested in technology might be assigned to work one of the poll book laptops, or someone who is a people person might be a greeter or host.
Pate says the Secretary of State’s Office is providing masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, social distancing markers, and other materials to every precinct to protect voters and poll workers from the risk of spreading COVID-19.