Princeton group works to recruit young people to be poll workers for Election Day
College students are increasingly showing up to vote. But one group at Princeton University is working to make sure that the process of voting can continue.
“We’re trying to recruit as many young people as possible to be poll workers,” says Princeton University senior basketball player Ryan Schweiger.
The average poll worker is in their 60s – an age group that is more likely to be more at-risk from COVID-19. The Poll Hero Project is looking to recruit younger people to take over those roles.
“We founded this project on the idea that this election is going to be like none other than we ever lived through,’ says Princeton University sophomore soccer player Ella Gantman.
Mail-in voting does not solve the problem. The controversy surrounding the U.S. Postal Service is making it seem like more people will show up to vote in person at the polls – something that is allowed in New Jersey even as Gov. Phil Murphy says that a majority of voting will be done by mail.
“Voting is a habit and if people are used to going to their polling station, they most likely will,” says Gantman. “And secondly, I think a lot of people will because they don’t trust the Postal Service right now, which is really, really sad and devastating.”
The Poll Hero Project has recruited about 3,000 volunteers nationwide in just three weeks using social media and going after college sports teams and campus political groups.
Working a polling site is a tradition forever linked to Princeton, thanks to the work of Laura Wooten. Wooten, who worked at the Princeton University dining hall, died last year. She was the nation’s longest-serving poll worker, having worked 79 years in a row.
“I didn’t know she was the longest working poll work in American History, which is amazing,” says Schweiger.
Wooten partly inspired the Poll Hero Project, which hopes to keep her legacy alive.
Some New Jersey towns are considering increasing pay for poll workers in order to provide more incentive.