Power the Polls, an effort backed by major civic groups and businesses that recruited hundreds of thousands of people to serve as poll workers in 2020, is relaunching its efforts ahead of the midterms. The program relaunch, shared first with POLITICO, comes amid some early signs that some jurisdictions are struggling to recruit enough poll workers to staff primaries and the general election. “We’re seeing already in the early primaries that there have been places that polling locations have been closed due to poll worker shortages, or there’s been the threat of closing polling locations,” said Jane Slusser, the effort’s program manager, in an interview. Recruiting poll workers was one of the biggest challenges for election officials during the 2020 election. And a rise in conspiracy theory-fueled threats to election workers, from secretaries of state on down, have worried some in the field, who say the environment makes it more difficult to recruit and retain enough workers this election cycle. Slusser said Power the Polls would look to reengage the 700,000 people who signed up to be potential poll workers in 2020, encouraging them to get in touch with their local election offices to work again. She said Power the Polls would place a particular emphasis on recruiting workers who have specialized skill sets, like knowing multiple languages, that local officials need to run elections smoothly.
Misinformation, violence and a paper shortage threaten midterm elections, officials say | Jacob Fischler/Idaho Capital Sun
Members of a U.S. Senate panel and election administrators raised a bevy of concerns Thursday about the challenges elections officials will face this fall, saying problems ranging from a lack of paper to coordinated misinformation campaigns could affect confidence in U.S. democracy. A bipartisan panel of current and former elections officials and experts told the Senate Rules and Administration Committee that state officials face threats of physical violence, while dealing with misinformation, supply chain challenges and funding shortfalls — making the administration of this year’s midterm elections more difficult. Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, listed those developments at the start of the hearing. She highlighted threats that have led Colorado officials to receive active shooter training and obtain bullet-proof vests, with morale among elections administrators nationwide worryingly low. “In light of these challenges, we must support the election officials working on the front lines of our democracy,” Klobuchar said. In addition to relatively new concerns related to holding elections in a pandemic, ranking Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri noted foreign and domestic adversaries persist in targeting election infrastructure and spreading online misinformation.