A high-turnout election in the middle of a pandemic that is surging across the country presents a host of challenges.
Older Americans typically serve as poll workers and election judges, but they’re also the most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. That has sent state and local election authorities scrambling to find younger people, especially those from diverse cultural backgrounds, to fill the void ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Shobhana Johri Verma, the director of South Asian outreach with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, has seen an increase in the number of young people signing up to be election workers. Part of the increase is due to a temporary state law that allows people as young as 16 to sign up.
“Many young people have stepped up—we’ve been overwhelmed with support this election,” Verma said.
Aleeza Huda, a program leader with Asian Americans Advancing Justice and a junior at Lane Tech College Prep High School, is one of those first-time poll workers. While she’s not old enough to vote, she saw the job as a perfect opportunity to help out.
It has also provided her with a civics lesson outside the classroom.
“I’m taking AP government so a lot of it was information that our teacher was already giving us,” Huda said. “But the whole thing has been informative because it’s not information that’s been covered in previous years.”
Chicagoans can still apply to be election judges for the Nov. 3 election through the Chicago Board of Election Commissioner’s website.