By Emily Park
The presidential election is now less than a month away, and local election boards across the United States are preparing to make assignments for the polls.
In the months leading up to the election, experts have warned that COVID-19 could cause a deep shortage of volunteers to work the polls. A shortage of election workers forces counties to limit the number of available poll locations, and would likely cause longer lines at the polls for the Nov. 3 election day — which is already projected to have a record turnout.
This election is an important one. It’s not just about deciding whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will be the US president for the next four years, or which senators and representatives will form the US Congress, or even which officials will take up state office.
The election on Nov. 3 is about the future of not only our country but the world too. It’s about equality—for women, for people of all races and backgrounds, for the LGBTQ+ community,— it’s about the environment, the economy, the US response to COVID-19, and much, much more. So this is an election we especially want to see run smoothly, and there’s plenty you can do to help.
First, if you’re not registered to vote, TODAY, OCT. 7 is the last day to register in Missouri. If you’re a Missouri resident you can register here. If you live in Kansas, you have six more days until the voter registration deadline on OCT. 13. Kansas residents can go here to register.
Register now, if you have not already—and keep in mind that you also have until those deadlines to update your registration if you have changed your address since the last time you voted.
If you are registered and ready to vote, you can ease the lines on election day by voting early. If you’re a Missouri resident all you have to do is go to your county election board office and tell them you will not be available to vote on election day and they will let you vote absentee from now until Nov. 2. Find out more about absentee voting in Missouri here.
If you live in Kansas, early voting begins on Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 2 at 12 p.m., you may also vote by going to your county’s election board office or satellite voting locations. Find out more about early voting in Kansas here.
Remember, the closer we get to election day the longer the lines will likely become, so go as early as possible!
If you a person that is low-risk for COVID-19, you can sign up with your county’s election board to be a poll worker. In the past, many poll workers have been senior citizens that pose a higher risk of complications from coronavirus.
So if you’re a healthy 20- or 30- something, now’s your time to shine. The more poll workers there are, the more poll locations that can be set up, and the more quickly lines will move on election day.
Many counties offer some type of compensation for volunteering to work the polls, and many companies also have PTO options for employees who choose to serve their community as a poll worker on election day.
Applying to be an election poll worker is pretty straightforward, but to make it easier, check out the election day worker volunteer processes set in place by the surrounding election boards in the Kansas City-metro area.
To be a poll worker in Missouri, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be a registered voter, in the jurisdiction you’re working
- Be able to speak, read, and write English
- Not appear on the current ballot or have a close relative appear on the current ballot
- Not hold elective office at the time of service as a poll worker
If you live in Kansas, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be registered to vote (or live in, if under voting age) in the jurisdiction you’re working
- Be an American citizen, at least 16 years old and willing to take an oath of office
- Complete a training
Kansas City Election Board
In most cases, election workers for the KCEB will be compensated between $250 – $275.
Jackson County Election Board
In most cases for the JCEB, you will be compensated between $65 – $165, plus $34 for attending the training session.
You can find the application to become a poll worker for the JCEB here. Applications can be emailed to email@example.com or you can fax or mail it to the election office. You can also view the various positions you can apply for and learn more information about volunteering here.
Clay County Elections
In most cases, Clay County, Mo., election workers will be compensated between $125-175, and are required to attend a training session.
More information about being an election worker in Clay County and how to apply can be found here.
Platte County Board of Elections
In most cases, Platte County, Mo., election workers will be compensated between $150-175, and are required to attend a training session, which pays $25.
Johnson County Election Board
If you are a Johnson County, Ka., resident over the age of 18 you can fill out an application to be an election worker here.
Those the age of 16 or 17 must fill out a paper application which can be found here, and can be turned in, faxed or mailed to the election office.
Wyandotte County Election Office
Election workers in Wyandotte County, Ka., are compensated at least $9.01 per hour.
You can find the application to be an election worker in Wyandotte County here. The application can be submitted via email, fax, mail or in-person at the election office.
For more information about volunteering go here.
If you live in a Missouri county that is not listed
You can sign up to be a poll worker in your county through the state of Missouri here.
More information about being an election worker in Missouri can be found here.
If you live in a Kansas county that is not listed
You can sign up to be a poll worker in your county through the state of Kansas here.
More information about being an election worker in Kansas can be found here.
Emily Park is a Kansas City-based journalist, passionate about giving a voice to those who don’t always have one. From news to features to business-to-business reporting, she’s done it all. (Features are her favorite though.) In her free time you can find Emily playing games, reading, streaming, or hanging out with her furry babies, Sutton the dog and Salem the cat.