Election authorities in the area and around the state are calling attention to the need for more poll workers.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said he hopes the message is conveyed throughout the year, especially with a June primary and midterm elections this fall. He said even before the pandemic, some older, long-time poll workers were stepping back from their duties. At a time when the voting process has been heavily debated in states such as Iowa, Pate described these individuals as “local heroes,” with no partisan leanings in their jobs.
He said shortages tend to come up in rural areas such as northern Iowa. His office said the state has a base of roughly 10,000 poll workers, but it hopes that number can grow to around 12,000. Pate said that would make it easier for county auditors to staff elections.
As the outcome of the 2020 presidential election was contested in some states, election workers reported a more threatening environment from angry voters. Pate doesn’t see that as a major problem in Iowa, but he said they take the issue seriously.
Those possibilities include threats of physical harm toward election workers. With increased outreach in the past couple years, the office said, auditors have reported seeing more poll workers younger than age 60 sign up. Pate said that coincides with record voting among people ages 18 to 25.
To sign up as a poll worker in Winnebago County, contact Karla Weiss at (641) 585-3412. In Hancock County, call Michelle Eisenman at (641) 923-3163.