Ohioans step up to be poll workers with strong recruitment numbers ahead of the election

By: - October 26, 2022 4:40 am

DUBLIN, OH — MAY 03: First-time poll worker Mohammad Naiyer who a few days free before he graduates medical school on Saturday helps a voter at the ballot maker during the Ohio primary election, May 3, 2022, at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes. Republish photo only with original story.)

With older poll workers phasing out, many younger Ohioans have stepped up to fill the void, some saying they want the experience to debunk election fraud myths.

As of Oct. 24, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose reported that 39,196 Ohioans have signed up to be poll workers in the General Election on Nov. 8. However, there are still 39 counties that have not met their local goals. 

The secretary of state’s office attributes the numbers to increased motivation from younger workers They said that they have not only been encouraged to help fill the gaps by older poll workers leaving, but also they were curious about election processes. 

LaRose spokesman Rob Nichols said that the office’s goal is to always over-recruit poll workers, just in the case of unforeseen circumstances.

“In 2020, because of COVID-19, there were a lot of challenges. We were concerned, 2020 would be a big election, a national election, a presidential election, so we launched a bunch of new poll worker recruitment efforts. As a result, we had a record number of poll workers that year,” Nichols said. 

Nichols said that because of the pandemic, many older poll workers in 2020 were nervous about being out in such public spaces, but a new wave of young poll workers liked the experience of that election cycle and stuck with it for this one.

Spencer Colish-Patrick is currently a sophomore at Ohio State. However, she has been working the polls on Election Day since high school. She was inspired to step up after seeing political ads on TV during the pandemic. 

“I thought it was interesting to get that experience and help out as much as I can, based on the fact that I know that a lot of people in my community were not able to help anymore in that age range, due to the fact they had health issues,” Colish-Patrick said.

Beyond the growing need to tag out older workers, Barbara Hughes, who has previously served as a poll worker in Greene County, was provoked by political tensions. 

“I wanted to be able to be able to dispel what people said about fraud in the election, so I wanted to see what the process was,” Barbara Hughes said. 

Nichols said that in addition to the goal of recruiting 115% of the minimum goal of poll workers in each county, there has to be an equal distribution of poll workers who identify as a Democrat and who identify as a Republican. 

As of Oct. 24, Ohio has 446 Democratic listed and 1,250 Republicans.  

The county breakdown can be seen on Ohio’s Poll Worker Tracker. The tracker, which was started in 2020 by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, is updated periodically until Nov. 8. 

“Two years ago, we made aggressive and innovative changes to our recruitment efforts that have earned national acclaim,” LaRose said. “This not only resulted in a record but also helped create a new generation of poll workers. Today, those efforts are paying off with very strong recruitment statewide with three weeks to go until Election Day.”

Correction: A previous version of this article identified Ohio poll workers as volunteers. They are paid for their work so we have removed the characterization.

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Chantal Brown
Chantal Brown

Chantal Brown is a senior at Ohio State University and is the Ohio Capital Journal's Fall 2022 intern. She has previously written for Guardians Baseball Insider and Femergy.

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