Does Florida have enough poll workers?

Election 2020

In this Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, using both the English and Spanish language, a sign points potential voters to an official polling location during early voting in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As voter intimidation becomes a growing concern in Florida, the role of poll workers has become increasingly more important.

With most poll workers above the age of 61, the country is largely in dire need of poll workers – more than 281,000, according to August estimations from MIT and Democracy Works.

Using 2018 data from Democracy Works and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in the 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey, researchers calculated the average number of poll workers for each state. They then used that information to estimate the needed number of poll workers by multiplying the statewide average by the number of in-person polling places in each jurisdiction. 

Tampa Bay precincts will be facing a shortage, as well. Most Tampa Bay precincts require nine poll workers for each site. Nearly 2,500 poll workers are expected to be absent on Nov. 3.

The role of poll workers is key to a smooth voting process.

There are four main positions that a poll worker can have. In Hillsborough County, for example:

The clerk is in charge of the overall management of the tasks, activities and poll workers in the polling place. The clerk ensures that order is maintained, policies and procedures are followed and the election team performs its duties correctly on Election Day. 

The assistant clerk assists the clerk and is ready and available to serve as clerk in the event the clerk is unable to perform his or her duties. The assistant clerk uses an electronic poll book to verify voter information and communicates with the Supervisor of Elections Office to resolve voter eligibility issues. 

An inspector sets up and maintains electronic poll books used for voter check-in and DS200 ballot scanners/tabulators. They also rotate in position to check in voters using an electronic poll book, issue ballots, instruct voters on where and how to mark and cast their ballot and hand “I Voted” stickers. 

deputy maintains order outside the polling place, assists in marking the no-solicitation zone, ensures compliance with the no-solicitation zone and ensures that the polling room is accessible to all voters. 

Other precincts may have different titles for workers who perform similar duties, each ensuring an easy and fair process for voters and candidates on the upcoming election day.

Besides Nov. 3, there are some key dates to be aware of:

  • Sun, Nov. 1: Early voting ends
  • Tue, Nov. 3: Election Day in-person voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tue, Nov. 3: Absentee/mail-in ballots must be delivered to SOE offices by 7 p.m.
  • Fri, Nov. 13: Absentee/mail-in ballot deadline for overseas voters

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