‘We’re really feeling pretty good’ — DC sees surge in poll volunteers

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, one of its many follow-on effects was predicted to be a shortage of people to work the polls for November’s election.

But at least in D.C., that doesn’t look to be the case.

“We’re really feeling pretty good,” Michael Bennett, chairman of D.C.’s Board of Elections, told WTOP.

He said the turnout of new volunteers “has been phenomenal over the last couple of weeks.”

The city needs just under 4,000 poll workers for the November election, Bennett said. So far, they’ve got 1,400 new poll workers ready to go, and “just over 3,000 applications and people in the queue to be trained,” Bennett said.

That doesn’t include returning poll workers, or 2,000 D.C. government workers Mayor Muriel Bowser has promised to make available if necessary.

Bennett said he recently dropped in on a training session and was struck by the youth of the volunteers. He said they were “in the 20s, 30s — I mean, dramatically younger than we’ve ever seen before.”

That’s important — many of the experienced poll workers are older in age, meaning they’re at higher risk if they contract the coronavirus and are largely saying they don’t feel comfortable working this election.

The city is still asking people to volunteer, because workers sometimes drop out at the last minute.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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