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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

The Poll Hero Project Works to Recruit Young People to Fill Poll Worker Shortage

A photo of voters at a polling place
In an effort to keep all polling locations open on Election Day, The Poll Hero Project is recruiting young people to work the polls. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a poll worker shortage.

With the General Election just six weeks away, many are concerned there won’t be enough people to work at voting locations. The average age of a poll worker is older than 60, which is also one of the age groups most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rana Yu is a senior at Jackson High School in Massillon. She is volunteering with the nonpartisan organization The Poll Hero Project to encourage young people to be poll workers. In Ohio, poll workers must be 18 years old and registered to vote, or 17 years old and a senior in high school. The national organization run by student volunteers has recruited 25,000 poll workers since August.

Yu says poll workers are essential to ensuring people can vote in person.

“If a lot of our polling places get shut down because we have a shortage of workers, some people might go see [and say], ‘Oh wow the line is so long,' and then be so discouraged that they just give up, go home and don’t vote,” she said.

Yu encourages anyone who is able to sign up to be a poll worker. 

Secretary of State Frank LaRose's officealso has more information about becoming a poll worker in Ohio.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.