Young People Fill Gap as Older Poll Workers Sit Out Election

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Poll workers are vital to the voting process. They tend to be older in age so many are sitting out this election because of COVID-19 concerns.

For more than a decade, Annabelle Masse has manned polling places in Plano.

This year, the 78-year-old said she opted for a less risky role during early voting: Checking signatures on mail-in ballots.

“I was kind of more comfortable doing that because it’s going to kind of be the same group each day and, you know, it's going to be spaced out,” Masse said.

In the midterms, 58% of poll workers nationwide were 61 or older, an age group at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

With many reluctant to work during the pandemic, young people could be key to preventing elections chaos.

“I'm 31 so [I] really wanted to set an example for not only people my age but for everyone in our community,” said Jacob Mann.

Mann was one of dozens of new faces in pollbook training courses in Collin County. All of them learned how to help voters cast ballots, even when they can't do so themselves.

“I wanted to come be a poll worker because I wanted to help make sure that this election, there's as many polls open and available so that as many people are able to vote as possible,” said 17-year-old Natalie Chapin.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties in Collin County initially expected a poll worker shortage.

Instead, they say they've seen the opposite.

The Republican Party said it’s seeing more new faces. The Democratic Party said poll workers are trending younger and because there are so many, in general, the county can't place them all.

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