November 5, 2023

There's not enough poll workers for Indiana's November election

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Several Indiana counties are experiencing shortages in poll workers ahead of the Tuesday general election. 

Linda Hanson is the president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana, an organization that encourages active participation in government. Hanson also serves as the spokesperson for the local Muncie-Delaware County chapter of LWV.

She said her local chapter has struggled to retain enough poll workers.

“Many of the poll workers are aging beyond when they want to be out doing this,” Hanson said. “And certainly, COVID and the possibilities of being exposed to so many people has impacted the response of some of the older workers.”

She said her county’s poll workers are required to share their political affiliation. Hanson said this may be affecting residents' willingness to volunteer, and may prevent Hoosiers who do not identify as Democrat or Republican from volunteering.

“To be a poll worker, you have to go through one of the parties,” she said. “So unless you are a party member or clearly working with them, you can't be a poll worker.”

Hanson said it may also be difficult for Hoosiers to find out information about being a poll worker if they’re not looking in the right spaces.

“Our website has a lot of information on it,” she said. “But you have to go there to look for it. And if people aren't used to doing that, they're not necessarily going to.”

Hanson said it is a “cooperative” effort for her local organization, the national LWV chapter and other organizations to spread this information.

Despite shortages in some counties, not all counties are experiencing these issues.

Brent Stinson is the deputy director of the Marion County Election Board. He said the county is a bit short on poll workers and inspectors, but that he would not consider it a “shortage.”

“We don’t have an ideal number of people for our sites just because there are some holes in some parts of the county,” he said. “But we have enough people to operate all 186 sites on Election Day.”

Stinson said Marion County does not require poll workers to declare whether they are Democrat or Republican. However, he said the county tries to have a fair distribution of poll workers throughout its voting centers.

“We make every attempt we can to make bipartisan appointments with the people that we find,” he said.

Hanson encourages any Hoosier interested in becoming a poll worker to check with their county’s clerk to assess the county’s need for volunteers.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.

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