There is a disease spreading throughout our nation’s polling locations. The graying of America is seen most potently behind the polls. Poll workers in America have an average age in the 70s, significantly older than the average age of AARP members (64). The current elderly class of civic-minded individuals who have fulfilled their civic duty responsibly for decades have been leaving out of confusion with new technology and the effects of their old age. As this void continues to grow, more and more options will need to be considered by state and local legislatures in order to ensure that elections go smoothly. This is the first post in a series about what could be done to help solve the problem of disappearing poll workers.
Young people are the future leaders of this country, but some local election laws could be more conductive to this passing of the torch as poll workers. States could learn from one another in this respect. Massachusetts passed a law in 2008 which allowed poll workers as young as 16. 29 other states allow poll workers to be under the age of 18. Arizona allows 16 and 17 year old high-school students to miss the day of school to be a poll worker (with parental permission), and even pays them for their service. There may be some concerns about the ability of minors to act as competent poll workers, but the minors are usually well supervised. The immediate reaction to this legislation in most states has been positive, including in Minnesota, where Secretary of State Mark Ritchie remarked the 16 and 17 year old poll workers “have been a burst of energy” and “a big success.” [Read more…] about Solving the Epidemic of Disappearing Poll Workers – Part 1: Young People