Young Poll Workers Fill The Gap As Some Experienced Workers Opt-Out Because Of COVID-19

San Diego County reported an increase in poll workers whose ages ranged from 20 to 59

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Super Poll locations are open across San Diego County and young poll workers are helping to fill the gap while some experienced workers opt out because of COVID-19 concerns.

In the midterms, 58% of poll workers nationwide were 61 or older, according to the Election Assistance Commission. This year, that number may change as the counties across the country, including San Diego County reports an uptick in 20 to 59-year-old poll workers.

“I’d say I am the youngest person working here today,” said Hollis Sims, a 23-year-old University of California San Diego student. “My job is mainly to collect mail-in ballots and also to assist the front-end greeter.”

He said some incentives for working the polls included; a paycheck during the pandemic and a sense of civic duty, while some long-time poll workers sit this election cycle out.  

“It does make sense. older people are at a greater risk of contracting it (COVID-19),” said Sims.

Sims is working at the same Super Poll location as Debbie Honeycutt, 69.  

“They’ve (young poll workers) answered the call. I think there’s just, in general, more interest in the voting process from young people today. There’s been a real uptick,” said Honeycutt.

She’s been working the polls for more than 20 years and said she felt safe returning this time around, although that’s not the case for some of the people she’s worked with in the past.

“I worked with a couple that were older than I am and when I asked them if they were going to work the general election, they said they decided they would not just because of COVID, so there is a loss of experienced people now,” said Honeycutt.

County representative, Gig Conaughton, said the decrease in poll workers, ages 60 and older, could be attributed to COVID-19 concerns and there being fewer polling places. The county is currently only using 3,700 poll workers compared to 7,000 in the March primary.

Conaughton also said there is an 18% decrease in 16 to 19-year-old poll workers right now because of the extended voting days, making it nearly impossible for students to commit to.

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