What was it like working at the voting polls?


Voting Polls. Photography by Hayley Durrant.

Voting is extremely important, as it affects issues such as access to health care, climate change, and immigration in the United States. This year, the United States was hit with something unexpected, Covid-19, making conventional in-person voting a lot more difficult. In the United States, there was a shortage of poll workers as many volunteers were over the age of 60, an at-risk demographic.

Both voters and poll workers had to follow different rules in order to vote safely during the pandemic. The workers had to take precautions such as practicing social distancing, avoiding touching their face, wearing a mask, and they had to frequently sanitize their hands. The poll workers were also provided with safety equipment such as cleaning supplies and face shields. At the check-in, voters were informed by the poll workers of all the safety precautions. 

“We had to limit the number of people in a room to keep social distancing,” said Simon Durrant, a poll worker in Huntington Beach. Only a few people were allowed in the voting room to decrease the chance of spreading COVID-19. People who were voting also had to follow mandates such as wearing masks, making sure they are socially distancing by six feet, and as in past elections, voters are not to wear biased clothes.

A few problems the workers faced were people not following the rules, such as standing too close together when casting a vote, since influencing votes is not allowed, and refusing to wear masks. 

“Voters were required to wear masks if they wanted to vote. If someone were to not wear one, they were offered a mask or they [were asked] to register their vote outside, which took much longer to do,” said Durrant. Setting up the voting stations was also a struggle, as there was a lot of heavy lifting. 

“Although voting this year was a struggle due to the pandemic, I highly recommended to volunteer at the voting polls because it is a great experience,” said Durrant. 

“Working at the voting polls was enlightening and felt like an achievement because I helped the community as well as the country,” said Durrant. Although the next presidential election is not for another four years, some advice for those who want to volunteer during any local election is to be prepared for long hours since it gets busy. Having a lot of patience is also recommended since many people are voting for the first time and will need a lot of help. Make sure to have a lot of free time because there are three days of training as well as days dedicated to working at the polling stations. 

The pandemic has made it a lot harder for Americans to vote. Those who did volunteer deserve our appreciation, as they risked their lives to allow democracy to continue. All over the United States, many poll workers spent hours of their time helping their community vote in the election while making sure everyone followed the safety precautions to protect voters’ health. Without them, many people would not have been able to cast their ballot. Be sure to thank those who helped out at the polls in our community during this difficult time.