Aging Poll Workers Concern Election Officials - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/02/04

Aging Poll Workers Concern Election Officials

The aging of America is having an impact at polling places across the country.

Many poll workers are senior citizens, who've worked elections for many years. And that raises the challenge of recruiting a new generation, to assume those election day duties.

Age is an issue because so many of the most dependable poll workers are elderly. And they'll be needing younger volunteers to replace them when they become unable to carry out the responsibility.

"We've been real busy today, thank God," said poll manager, Mary Ducksworth, as she helped oversee the late morning rush at the Isaiah Fredericks Community Center.

A sense of community service prompted her to become a poll worker 20 years ago. "Because I thought it was something good for the community. To help, you know," she explained.

Sheredia Graves represents the next generation of poll workers. She's young enough to be the daughter of most poll workers and she's determined to get others her age involved.

"We are trying to get more younger people involved. So, maybe next time we'll have younger people, like myself," she said.

A steady crowd of voters gave poll workers at the Klein Road Church of God little time to take a break.

It's Patricia Mack's ninth election. She answered the call to civic duty more than a decade ago.

"I was concerned about getting out and working in the community. And that was the one thing I could do," Mack said.

Recruiting a new generation of poll workers is a nationwide concern. National election officials estimate the average age of a poll worker in America is 72 years old.

Veteran poll workers we talked with welcome the younger volunteers who are training to take their place.

"Because we're getting old. And somebody has got to take over," Mary Ducksworth admitted.

Being a poll worker obviously requires a time commitment.  And that's one of the big reasons so many poll workers are retirees. By the way, the poll workers are paid for this duty. Polling place managers get 95 dollars for working election day. All other poll workers get 75 dollars.

By Steve Phillips

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