Do we really want well run elections? we're not willing to pay for them.
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Elections cost millions of dollars to organize and run, but some of the most crucial work is performed by low-wage workers, specifically poll workers.
American elections are run locally, which means government officials need to recruit and pay people to work at voting locations. But the requirements for the jobs, which include being available and able to work for 12 hours or more on Election Day, can make it difficult to find people willing to sign up.
“It is a predicament that plagues almost every jurisdiction in the country and it grows worse every year,” begins a 2014 report by the federal Election Assistance Commission.
The commission found that more than half of all states had jurisdictions that reported it was either “somewhat” or “very” difficult to recruit poll workers for the 2012 election. Every one of Louisiana’s parishes rated it somewhat difficult that year, while more than half of Indiana’s election-day voters live in counties where it was at least somewhat difficult to find poll workers. In 2014, all 120 counties in Kentucky reported that recruiting poll workers was very difficult.
Here’s why it matters: Without enough poll workers, voters can experience longer lines, polling places can open late, and there may not be workers available to tackle issues that voters might encounter.
Long waiting times are one of the most visible and significant issues that can occur on Election Day. And although they can have a number of causes, a lack of poll workers is an important factor, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice.
There are a few reasons why recruiting poll workers has gotten harder. The increased participation of women in the workforce and new technology that older Americans can find daunting have played a role. Under the Voting Rights Act, some polling places need to have poll workers with specific language skills. Then there’s the pay.