Call-out for young adults to help at polls

Typically senior citizens man the voting booths on Election Day. This year, we'll need the younger generations to take over the duty.

Opinion

May 4, 2020 - 9:32 AM

Susie Henriksen, center, assists voters inside the Knights of Columbus building in Newport, Va. Typically, poll workers are of the older generation, which this year puts them at risk with the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press

We have made clear in previous commentary that mail-in voting should play an important role in our democracy going forward. Although the state Democratic Party has smartly adapted that strategy for their primary this month, Kansas has two other largely in-person elections on the calendar this year.

We encourage the Kansas Legislature, should it return, to expeditiously examine the feasibility of expanding mail-in options. But these upcoming contests will likely still feature polling places, and that means the unprecedented act of staffing and running crucial pieces of our democracy in the middle of a pandemic.

If you’ve voted recently — or ever, for that matter — you are doubtless familiar with the average age of poll workers. They are often elderly. That doesn’t keep them from doing amazing work, of course, but as a high-risk group for COVID-19, they should likely not be spending the day inside, interacting with hundreds or thousands of people in a cramped, airless polling place.

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