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An election official outside and voters outside a voting location in Minneapolis, Minnesota

An election official outside and voters outside a voting location in Minneapolis, Minnesota | Lorie Shaull

September 21, 2022

Election Officials Struggle to Recruit Poll Workers for Midterms Amid Growing Threats

Ask Students: What are some of the reasons poll workers left in recent years? When did recruiting poll workers become a problem?

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Summary

Election Day is less than two months away, yet there’s a critical missing element that could slow down the voting process. It takes more than a million people working the polls to make American elections run smoothly. Between retirements and concerns about COVID, tens of thousands of poll workers have left the job over the past several election cycles. William Brangham reports. For a transcript of this story, click here.

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Discussion Questions

  • How many workers are needed to make general elections run smoothly in the U.S., according to this story?
  • Who are some of the poll workers interviewed in this story, and what are their backgrounds?
  • What are some of the reasons poll workers left in recent years, according to those interviewed?
  • When did recruiting poll workers begin to become a problem?
  • Why are there still challenges recruiting poll workers, according to Jane Slusser?

Focus Questions

What do you think a community could do to boost numbers of poll worker volunteers?

Media Literacy: Did this piece answer questions about how eligible poll workers can volunteer? If not, where could you find out?

Poll Workers: What It Takes

Who should be eligible to be a poll worker? What are some ways volunteer poll workers could make voting more difficult and less secure rather than easier and more secure? Watch the video below and make your own list of qualities you think poll workers should have to be eligible to volunteer.

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Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

Addressing Threats to Democracy

Using last year’s January 6, insurrection as a teachable moment, we assembled educational resources to help students reflect on the events leading up to and on that day, as well as resources that explore ongoing threats to the integrity of a democratic government, including how to foster media literacy and civil discourse, understand voter suppression and how to identify misinformation.

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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