Groups launch efforts to mobilize poll workers amid a coronavirus pandemic

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The nonprofits and businesses behind the new effort, "Power the Polls," are Civic Alliance, Comedy Central, Fair Elections Center, Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, Time To Vote, Pizza to the Polls, MTV, Uber and We Can Vote. The groups are looking to get up to 250,000 people to help keep the in-person elections running as safely and efficiently as possible this fall.

"We call on people who care about democracy to recognize that an essential part of that is making sure that our elections work and work well and that they are efficient and safe and that we do not have long queues and problems in the polls due to to lack of human resources, "Bob Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Center, told CNN.

Recruitment efforts will include the launch of a database that will provide information on how to become a poll worker, with updated information for more than 4,000 jurisdictions, according to the groups. Brandon noted that the database would include information for most jurisdictions with populations of more than 7,500 people. The data is compiled by the Fair Elections Center, one of the project partners.

The effort aims to recruit people to work for members of the Civic Alliance, which launched earlier this year. Civic Alliance is a collaboration between Democracy Works and the CAA Foundation, and its member companies include Amazon, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, Lyft, Starbucks, Viacom CBS, Warby Parker, Target and Vice.

"We will be hanging out with our members with an election service campaign on Election Day, a service-type opportunity, which will get corporate members interested in getting employees to poll," Mike Ward, vice president, told CNN. of electoral participation in Democracy Works.

The effort comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and as states consider plans to vote in person during the outbreak. Election officials across the country may be facing problems with poll workers. Earlier this year, officials in Wisconsin struggled to recruit poll workers as the pandemic spread across the United States, and officials in Georgia and Kentucky reported on the shortage of poll workers in their recent primaries.

In addition, the age factor must be taken into account: poll workers tend to be older and fall into an age group more vulnerable to serious coronavirus diseases. The Pew Research Center reports that 58% of poll workers were 61 or older in the 2018 midterm elections, a number similar to 56% during the 2016 election.

Ward said leveraging networks of company employees could provide surveys to younger poll workers and technology experts.

"In polling places, there is a real need for people who are comfortable with technology. Younger generations are more comfortable with technology. That youthful factor helps ensure that every piece of technology in the polling place is can use to its fullest potential. " said.

Still, Brandon noted that the initiative aims to recruit and educate poll workers of all ages.

"The initiative, while focusing on many ways to reach youth, we want everyone to consider being a poll worker," Brandon said.

"It is very important that we create diversity and that poll workers see themselves as the voters they are helping," he said.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the number of jurisdictions included in a database maintained by the Fair Elections Center.

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