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What is the current shortfall of poll workers?

Poll worker recruitment is an ongoing process, and many elections offices report that recruitment can be difficult. It is always best to check with the local elections office to inquire if there are shortfalls. Voters can use this online tool to find contact information for their local elections office:

What are the most challenged states?

Poll Worker recruitment remains a challenge across the country. It is always best to check with the local elections office to inquire if there are shortfalls. Voters can use this online tool to find contact information for their local elections office:

Requirements for poll workers

What are the requirements to be a poll worker?

Qualifictions vary by state or jurisdiction. Most poll workers must be registered to vote in the state or their local jurisdiction. In some states, young people, not yet voter eligible, can serve as poll workers. Please check with your local jurisdication.

Can I be a poll worker in a state that I do not live in or am not registered in?

For the most part, individuals are only allowed to serve in the state where they reside. Some jurisdictions may allow individuals to travel and work the polls even if they are not registered to vote in that location.

NCSL has information about Poll Worker residency requirements:

Are there general rules about Military spouses being poll workers where they are stationed regardless of where they are registered to vote?

It is always best to check with the local elections office for this determination. Voters can use this online tool to find contact information for their local elections office:

It's important to know that where you "reside" is a legal determination and is not necessarily where you live at any given time. For most Americans, the answer will depend on a number of factors such as your intent to establish permanent residency. However, the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act allows military spouses to maintain legal residence in line with their spouse's election under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act. If you're a military spouse, your residency for purposes of voting and serving as a poll worker may actually be the state where you lived before a permanent change of station. This is often a challenge for military spouses who want to serve as poll workers. But changing your residency can have implications on other important matters like your taxes. So, before changing your voter registration or taking other steps to change your legal residency so you can serve as a poll worker, you should consider consulting with a qualified advisor. Please visit the Federal Voting Assistance website ( for military voters for more related information.

NCSL has information about Poll Worker residency requirements:

In 22 states and two territories poll workers are expected to reside in the precinct, but if there are not enough qualified candidates, then poll workers may come from a wider pool, such as the county, legislative district or even the state:

* Alabama, Alaska*, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire**, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands, Virginia

In 21 states and two territories poll workers must reside in the county or election jurisdiction in the states that run elections at the township/municipal level.

* American Samoa, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland*, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina*, Tennessee*, Vermont, West Virginia*, Wisconsin, Wyoming,

In five states and Washington, D.C., poll workers must reside in the state:

* California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota

Oregon and Washington are vote-by-mail states that do not use traditional poll workers and therefore do not have codified residency requirements.

*States that permit poll workers to be residents of other parts of the state if necessary.

**New Hampshire requires poll workers to be registered to vote at the polling place where they serve.

Can people under 18 work as poll workers in some states? (For example, military kids!)

Each state has their own requirements, but many do allow individuals under 18 to be poll workers. Some may require permission slips, a certain GPA, etc. Your local election administrator will have more information.

NCSL has information about Student Poll Worker requirements:

Youth poll worker programs are established in 45 states and the District of Columbia as a way for people younger than 18 to participate in Election Day procedures. These programs are often intended to encourage young citizens to engage in voting, registration and democracy.

Five states and five territories have no codified youth poll worker program:

* Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.
* American Samoa, Guam, Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

States often codify the age that youth can begin working at the polls:

* 15 years old: Missouri
* 16 years old: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland*, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
* 17 years old: Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
* Age not specified: Arkansas, Illinois (junior or senior in high school), Virginia

*In 2019, Maryland created a special Election Day page program that permits youth who are at least 14 years old to serve at the polls. A page may not engage in partisan activity, touch a marked ballot, or work more than two four-hour shifts. They serve under direct supervision of election judges (2019 MD S 364).

Some states that permit youth to work at the polls limit the number of poll workers younger than 18. For example:

* In California, not more than five pupils per precinct may serve under the direct supervision of precinct board members designated by the elections official (Cal. Elec. Code §12302(b)(1)).
* In Kansas, no more than one-third of those appointed to each election board may be younger than 18 (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 25-2804(b)).
* In Kentucky no precinct shall have more than one minor serving as an election officer (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 117.045(9)).

I am not a U.S. citizen but I am a permanent resident. Can I serve as a poll worker?

Most states require poll workers to be a registered voter and citizen. Check with your local jurisdiction for more guidance.

Poll worker responsibilities

Is a poll worker the same as a poll watcher?

No. Poll workers help administer the election. They work for election admintrators to check in voters, fix voting machines or troubleshoot any other issues at polling locations. Poll watchers (or observers, monitors) are volunteers or staff from a political party or campaign that are certified to observe or monitor the election administration. Political parties, candidates or ballot issue committees typically appoint poll watchers.

What do poll workers do?

Poll workers help voters with checking in and understanding their ballot. They may also help voters maintain physical distance in lines and wipe down machines and equipment. WIth mail in or absentee voting, poll workers help open and count ballots.

Do poll workers need training?

Local jurisdictions often have mandatory trainings and will provide poll workers with all the necessary information and skills they will need for Election Day.

Do I have to work the full day or can I take a partial shift?

It will vary by jurisdcition; some may require full days and others partial days. You should still signup and let your election officials know your availability.

Does it matter if I am a Republican, Democrat, or Independent?

Applications in some jurisdictions may ask you for party registration information to ensure party balance among poll workers at every polling location. Poll working is usually a non-partisan activity and your party affiliation does not matter.

After you apply

What do I do after I complete my application?

We can help you through the process, but also be sure to be on the lookout for any communication from your local election administrators.

Do poll workers need training?

Most local jurisdictions have mandatory training and provide poll workers with all needed information and skills they will need for Election Day.

When will training start?

In some places, training may start immediately. Reach out to your election administrator for their training schedule.

Why have I not heard back from my local city or county?

While there is a great need for poll workers, many local election administrators do not reach out to poll worker applicants until closer to the Election.

What is the deadline to apply?

Most election administrators accept application on a rolling basis so there is not a nationwide set deadline. Getting your application in as early as possible will help administrators in their planning.

Compensation and Safety

Are poll workers paid?

In most cases, local jurisdictions pay poll workers a stipend for their particpation. However, poll working may be voluntary in some jurisdictions.

What precautions are taken to protect poll workers?

Local organizations and partners help election officials provide PPE. If you have specific concerns, please reach out to your local officials for more information.

What accommodations are provided for disabilities?

These vary state to state, so the best place to find information is by contacting your local elections administrator directly.

What if I do not want to be paid to be a poll worker?

You can ask your waive your wages or you can choose to donate your earnings to a charity of your choice.

Additional Inquiries

If I'm working the polls, when do I vote?

Poll workers usually cast their votes early or by mail, but some are able to cast their vote on Election Day.

Can you mail me an application?

Unfortunately, we cannot mail you an application. You should reach out to your local election officials for information on how to proceed.