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This Week in Freudenfreude: Power the Polls

As we have written many, many times, a part of the electoral strategy for today's Republican Party is to intimidate and abuse poll workers. The reason for this, at least the one that GOP strategists will say out loud, is to get rid of "corrupt" poll workers who are stealing elections for the Democratic Party. It's also entirely plausible that Republicans want to steal a few elections for themselves, something that will be much easier if it happens under the watch of only friendly eyes. Either way, a lot of very decent people who signed up to work their local polling places out of a sense of civic duty have abandoned the job because it's become so unpleasant and/or dangerous. By 2018, nearly two-thirds of jurisdictions said they were having trouble finding enough poll workers.

This was the impetus behind the 2020 founding of Power the Polls, which was created by a nonpartisan consortium of activist groups and corporations to help encourage people to learn about the voting process and to volunteer to serve at their local polling places. The initial partners included MTV, the United Way and the Fair Elections Center; in the past 3 years they have added numerous other heavy hitters, including the AFL-CIO, Target, and Starbucks. Organizations and businesses that include tens of thousands of members/employees are, naturally, a particularly efficient source of recruits. And Power the Polls has had enormous success, enlisting roughly 750,000 people for the 2020 general election and another 250,000 for the 2022 primaries and general election.

Those are very big numbers; to put it in context, the 2016 election attracted a grand total of about 900,000 poll workers. Not every person recruited by Power the Polls will stick with it beyond one cycle, but nearly 95% of recruits said it was a good experience and nearly 90% said they wanted to work the polls again. In addition, Power the Polls keeps a list of people who haven't served yet, but who have expressed interest in doing so. And the organization has just started gearing up for the 2024 cycle.

Given the prominence of anti-democratic forces in America, it's heartening to see there are so many people and entities pushing back against that, in whatever way they can. And on that note, we're going to update the banners that rotate at the top of the page to add Power the Polls. If readers have other suggestions for pro-voting/pro-democracy organizations we should add, please let us know.

Have a good weekend, all! (Z)

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