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Poll workers needed for midterm elections

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Posted at 12:04 PM, Jun 03, 2022

ATLANTA, Ga. — Anjali Gokarn loved being a poll worker.

The millennial doesn't fit the description of a typical poll worker. The majority are over 60 years old.

"Having been born and raised in Georgia, I want to be more part of the process and make an impact on it," she said.

Right now, there's a shortage of poll workers. Power to the Polls, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works to recruit poll workers, says a tight labor market paired with burnout from how workers were treated after the 2020 election has increased the need for workers. It says some polling locations this year have even had to close because of a lack of workers.

"There's also people that are like, 'I don't believe in the system and I don't know if I believe that my vote even matters.' Even people my age," said Gokarn. "I don't feel like they feel that confident about like the voting process."

"A lot of individuals were attacked for doing their civic duty of actually working polls and making sure that people could vote," said Chris Bruce, the political director of the ACLU of Georgia.

He and his team have been working to help districts fill the gaps in recruiting workers for the state.

"There's going to be others who are saying, 'I've done my job. I've done my duty. I'm not interested in it anymore.' Completely understand, but there's also a new wave and crop of individuals, especially younger individuals who do want to get involved," he said.

Bruce says his organization did a lot to recruit new poll workers for a recent primary election in the state and it did help, but he says more needs to be done in order to be fully staffed for the midterms in November. He hopes that current conversations in politics convince more people to get involved.

"There are a lot of divides that are happening within our country. Voting should not be one of them," he said.

Gokarn, who is an accountant by trade, said she loves working at the polls because she believes in it, and despite the controversies, she hopes others see her involvement as motivation to participate.

"People need to understand, like, if you don't like the process, like the way to improve it is to actually get involved. And kind of see it for yourself," she said.

On both ends of the political spectrum, there's a lot of mistrust in the electoral system. Some believe in widespread voter fraud, others believe laws have been established to take their vote away. One message those like Gokarn have for those who have lost faith – become a part of the system so you can see for yourself.

"We're very fortunate to live in the country we live in. We're very fortunate to have these processes. We see turmoil going on in the world, even right now in 2022. I know we have our own turmoil here, but without actually getting involved in doing something nothing can really change," she said.