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Groups Launch Website To Make It Easier For Younger People To Become Poll Workers In Travis County

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Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

In an effort to get younger people in Austin to become poll workers during upcoming elections, local groups have put together a simple online application.

In the past, the majority of poll workers in Austin have been older. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, many of those former poll workers have said they aren’t going to risk their health by working this year.

Daniel Roesler, a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, said Travis County officials need help bringing in roughly 700 workers for the upcoming July 14 primary runoff. Because younger people are new to the process, Roesler said he and others have developed a simple online form that goes straight to Travis County officials.

“It’s a very, very streamlined process that someone can basically just do on their phone," he said. "You can be out and about or tell people about it and you just click on the link, fill out the process and all of a sudden you have applied to be a poll worker on Election Day."

Liani Lye is a leader with Open Austin, which is a local group that works on the technology side of civic engagement and advocates for open government and open data. She said the pandemic has forced local governments to restructure how they do some things.

“Everything has to be reimagined from the ground up,” Lye said. “We don’t usually just say, ‘Fill in a Google form and we will reach out to you.’ Usually the process is: send an email, get a PDF, go to 5501 Airport and drop it off [and] wait a few weeks.”

Lye said she’s encouraged to see that Travis County officials have been open to doing things differently, considering the circumstances.

For the runoff, Travis County will have 20 early voting locations that will need to be staffed – as well as 100 Election Day locations.

As of late last week, Travis County officials said more than 90% of early voting locations had been staffed, but only about half of election day locations were staffed.

In comparison, Dallas County election officials say they are fully staffed for 45 early voting locations and 306 Election day polling locations. El Paso says they are also 100% staffed for all of their polling locations during the election.

Early voting begins June 29.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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