New York, NY — Today Miles Rapoport, President of Demos, a nonpartisan voting rights organization, and former Connecticut Secretary of State, issued the following statement on the dramatic nation-wide shortage of poll workers:
"Election officials across the country are facing critical shortages in poll workers, falling more than 500,000 workers short of what's needed nationally. When record numbers of Americans show up on Election Day, including many new voters, we must be prepared to handle the influx.
"Poll worker shortages lead to longer lines and dissuade people from voting. The risk is even higher this year, given the rise in new voters and the possibility of eligibility challenges. The Constitution prohibits poll taxes and other time-tested devices for blocking people from voting. Making voters wait in line several hours in order to cast a ballot can have the same effect.
"An election is a critical juncture for choosing the direction that our country should take. We need to match the increased interest in voting with an increased commitment to the electoral process. That means allocating the funds necessary to attract and fully train a sufficient corps of poll workers. The typical stipend, $100 for a thirteen hour day, is patently inadequate. Democracy is worth a bigger investment.
"As late as yesterday, election officials in some areas were looking for more poll workers, who'd be trained on Monday. If it's not too late, citizens who would like to see a smooth election should call their local election office and offer to volunteer and be trained as a poll worker for this election.
For information about voters' rights and challenges to the integrity of our elections in 2004, visit the Demos homepage at www.demos.org.
Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in New York.