NEW CAMPAIGN TO RECRUIT 100,000 VETERANS TO BE POLL VOLUNTEERS LAUNCHES
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fifteen veteran and military service organizations, four civic groups, and the National Football League (NFL) joined forces today to create the VetTheVote coalition (http://www.vetthe.vote/) - a pro-democracy, non-partisan effort organized by We the Veterans (http://www.wetheveterans.us/) to recruit 100,000 veterans and family members to be poll workers in the 2022 midterms.
The national shortage of poll workers has reached a critical level - the traditional cohort of poll workers has an average age of 60 and their outstanding volunteerism has been badly suppressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Election boards across the country have struggled to recruit enough volunteers to efficiently and effectively run elections. America needs to recruit more than 1 million volunteers annually to administer election polling sites.
The shortage of poll workers has already negatively impacted our election system. Over the past few years, American communities have seen a drastic reduction in the number of polling locations and longer lines and wait times. In 2020, the situation was so dire that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers activated his state’s national guard (https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/13/politics/poll-worker-shortage-2020-election/index.html) to assist as poll workers in 40 counties during the state’s primary elections. New Jersey did the same that year and sent 120 soldiers in civilian clothes to assist (https://www.defense.gov/News/Feature-Stories/Story/Article/2276080/new-jersey-national-guard-supports-primary-election-in-historic-first/) - a first in state history. In early 2022, several voting locations in Texas were unable to open (https://www.texastribune.org/2022/03/01/texas-primary-election-voting-location-closures/) due to a lack of volunteers. There are similar stories from New York to Los Angeles and in just about every state in the nation.
“When I retired after 40 years in uniform, I looked for ways to continue to serve, so I volunteered to be an election poll worker. This might seem like a small thing, but I was involved with elections in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, and I marveled at the impact that freely voting had on the people that voted. It’s something we should never take for granted. Please join me in this important work.” - Gen. George Casey, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Coalition members include:
- We the Veterans
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Count Every Hero
- National Military Family Association
- Military Officer Association of America (MOAA)
- Student Veterans of America
- Minority Veterans of America
- Veterans for Political Innovation
- The Veterans and Citizens Initiative
- Veterans for American Ideals
- Vet Voice Foundation
- Veteran Business Project
- The Rosie Network
- The National Football League (NFL)
- US Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes
- Partnership for American Democracy
- First Amendment Voice
- Civic Alliance
Vet the Vote will recruit poll workers using web-enabled infrastructure developed by our partner Power the Polls. Founded in 2020, Power the Polls is a first-of-its-kind, nonpartisan initiative recruiting the next generation of poll workers to ensure a safe and fair election for all.
"Democracies run on elections and elections run on volunteers. Our democracy needs veterans to serve again, this time by volunteering to be poll workers. Please join me and sign up to be a poll worker for the 2022 elections." - Admiral Steve Abbot, USN (Ret.), former Acting Homeland Security Advisor to the President of the United States.
There are more than 17 million veterans in the United States and millions more military and veteran family members. The veteran community is one of the most diverse and geographically diffuse populations in America, represented in every voting jurisdiction. We believe our community is up to the task and ideally positioned to help solve this national shortage of poll workers.
"Free and fair elections are the foundation of American democracy that our nation's veterans swore to protect. The pandemic caused a shortage of election workers, and we're calling on veterans and military families to serve as poll workers." - The Honorable Louis Caldera, 17th Secretary of the U.S. Army.
“Two years ago, we launched NFL Votes, a league-wide, nonpartisan initiative to support and encourage voting and civic engagement among the entire NFL family,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Continuing those efforts, today we’re pleased to join the Vet the Vote coalition to recruit and train military veterans and their families to serve as poll workers. We are forever grateful for their service to our country and this initiative will help ensure that our elections run effectively and efficiently for all voters, wherever they live, and whatever their background.”
“Our nation’s veterans often seek ways to continue serving our country. Working the polls to help fellow Americans fulfill a critical civic obligation is a noble mission and one the Military Officers Association of America is proud to support,” said MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret).