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An initiative to provide nonpartisan, independent elections journalism for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pa. polling places still need workers to help ensure smooth primary

Election workers feed ballots into counting machines.
Gene J. Puskar
Election workers perform a recount of ballots from the recent Pennsylvania primary election, Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse on the Northside of Pittsburgh.

With the presidential primary a few months away, poll workers are still needed to ensure the election can be held without problems.

“Poll workers are really the front lines of our representative democracy,” Al Schmidt, secretary of the commonwealth, said. “If not for them, we would not be able to have our votes cast and have our votes counted.”

Turnover of poll workers has been a major problem since 2020, with 40 of the state’s 67 counties having new election directors or deputy directors, according to the Associated Press.

The pandemic initially triggered high turnover, but that grew as hostility was directed towards workers when false claims of election fraud began coming in.

In such times of political turmoil, it can be hard to decide to become a poll worker. But Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said Pennsylvania has a patriotic citizenry who will do the right thing.

“Don’t believe the negatives,” she said. “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem and the spreading of negative information that just isn’t true. Trust your neighbors. Trust your friends. This is not outsiders taking care of us. It’s us taking care of us.”

To qualify to be a poll worker you must be a registered voter. Seventeen-year-olds can also become workers, but must adhere to additional requirements.

Government employees or officials cannot be poll workers, though exceptions exist for district judges, notaries public and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Certain positions, such as judge of elections, require the candidate to be elected or appointed to the position.

Poll workers will be trained by their counties and will be paid for their service. They must work in the county in which they are registered to vote.

You can register to work the polls at the Department of State’s website. The primary is April 23 and the general election is Nov. 5.