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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

The biggest issue facing our election, and what we can do to help

The+biggest+issue+facing+our+election%2C+and+what+we+can+do+to+help

It would be an understatement to say that this upcoming election is the most important election in recent history. However, there is an aspect of the election cycle that I believe we are overlooking: poll workers. 

They are the backbone of polling places on election day, mitigating the influx of people going to vote in person, and alleviating any altercations that happen inside the polling place. With a pandemic still looming over our heads, the amount of poll workers has dwindled over fears of contracting the coronavirus. But this leads to a much larger problem, one that is happening right outside our campus. 

A poll worker, or an election inspector, is responsible for issuing ballots to voters, registering people to vote if the state allows same-day registration, explaining how to mark the ballot and so much more. 

In a normal election year, one that is not riddled with a worldwide pandemic, the turnout of poll workers on election day is very slim, mostly due to the commitments people have to make in order to work the polls. 

But this year is different, obviously. The number of poll workers has dropped significantly, due to the older demographic not wanting to risk contracting the coronavirus. Older citizens made up 51% of the poll workers in the U.S. If the largest demographic of poll workers are unable to work at the polls, it can lead to a plethora of problems. 

One: the lines would be much longer. Not just due to the shortage of poll workers, but with the precautions workers have to take to ensure the safety and health of anyone who enters the polls. This year, we have seen this problem emerge with the primaries back in June in states like Kentucky and the District of Columbia. 

Two: the disenfranchisement of people of color. Polling places in neighborhoods of color are already riddled with problems due to the continued shortage of poll workers, an issue that stemmed beyond this election cycle. People of color, who already face long waiting times for voting due to voter suppression, would have to wait hours on end in order to cast a ballot. It is time taken away from work, taking care of their family or other commitments. 

In Philadelphia, there is a shortage of poll workers at polling stations around the city, even at our local polling place, Samuel Gompers School. In September, the city commissioner reported that they needed roughly 8,500 workers on election day to mitigate the flow and sanitize equipment. 

We can alleviate the stress of the election commission by becoming poll workers ourselves. Even if you cannot become one due to prior commitments (i.e. class), then encourage other people to get involved. You get paid not just for being trained, but for working on election day, learning the ins and outs of how a polling place operates and you are thanked for making everything run smoothly. In order to become a poll worker in Philadelphia, you can go to VotesPA.com to fill out their forms and learn more.

As St. Joe’s students, our mission is to be a person “with and for others.” In this crucial election cycle, we need to reflect the beliefs of St. Ignatius, and help our community. Become a poll worker because you believe that every person in the U.S. has the fundamental right to vote. If we can step up, and alleviate the stress of the election commissions during this election cycle, then we are enabling people to exercise their rights and have their voices heard. 

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