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Michigan Secretary of State Announces 16- and 17-Year-Olds Can Be Poll Workers

Jason A. Michael

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and The Michigan Voting Coalition, as part of its 40 Days of Early Voting campaign focused on historically disenfranchised communities, is trying to sign up poll workers for the Nov. 3 general election. Any registered voter can be a poll worker, and, for the first time, it has been announced that 16- and 17-year-olds can participate as poll workers as well.

"Poll workers are first responders for democracy, and they serve to ensure our election runs smoothly before the polls open at 7 a.m. and well past closing time at 8 p.m.," said Rhonda Saxton, area director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Poll workers are trained and paid for their work. According to Michigan law, those with felony records are allowed to vote, but they are not permitted to serve as poll workers. The critical need for poll workers was a key message reinforced by the diverse members of the Michigan Voting Coalition and Secretary of State Benson at a press conference kicking off the 40 Days of Early Voting campaign.

Many communities struggle to recruit enough poll workers to make Election Day run smoothly. Without enough poll workers, voters may have to wait in long lines, an inconvenience that has disproportionately impacted Michiganders from communities with significant numbers of voters of color and young voters. In addition to the right to vote by mail and vote early, Michigan voters have the right to vote at their assigned polling location on election day. Having enough trained poll workers is critical to ensuring full and fair access to the ballot for all Michigan voters.

LGBT Detroit has already signed up to assist with the effort to recruit more poll workers.

"LGBT Detroit is a proud partner organization, and happy to be among this hugely diverse statewide coalition," said Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of LGBT Detroit. "We need poll workers. Poll workers are an essential part of the democratic system. Almost any registered Michigan voter can become a poll worker, [as well as] 16- and 17-year-old teenagers."

Some important dates to note as part of the 40 Days of Early Voting campaign:

  • Now: Voters can print and submit a paper application for an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election. You can also request an absentee ballot online at mvic.sos.state.mi.us/avapplication. Already registered voters can vote early at their city or township's clerk's office.
  • The last day to register online or through the mail for the Nov. 3 election is Monday, Oct. 19.
  • Starting on Oct. 20 through 8 p.m. on Election Day, you must register to vote in person at your city or township clerk's office and provide proof of residency. Once you are registered, you can vote, all in one trip. If you plan to vote by mailing in your absentee ballot, please put it in the mail by this date to make sure it arrives on time.
  • Nov. 3 is Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.

To learn more or sign up today, visit michiganvoting.org/be-a-poll-worker or email [email protected].

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