How You Can Help Protect Our Elections

1. Become an Election Day Poll Worker

An election worker is an essential component to every polling place location on Election Day. (Here’s how to become a poll worker in your state.)

(Keith Ivey / Flickr)

That “essential” status has taken on a new meaning in 2020—as polling locations in states throughout the nation threaten to close due to COVID-19 cases on the rise and shortages of willing workers.

Chronic shortages of poll workers often leads to voting location closures. When polling locations close, it means voters must go longer distances to vote, and for voters who depend on public transportation, or walking to their polling place, it might make it impossible for them to access a polling place.

In almost every state, poll workers are paid $10-12 an hour or $100-200 per Election Day. Depending on an individual’s experience and years spent as a poll worker, they can end up earning over $200 for a day’s work. Many states do not specify the pay rate in postings because it varies by county, but being a poll worker is a paid position. Only in one state—Connecticut—are poll workers referred to as “volunteers.” 

Poll workers must be prepared to work the entire day on Election Day—typically from 6 am to 9 pm. Some, but not many, counties allow workers to split shifts. Almost every county/state requires workers to attend a training—most of which are paid and last about two hours. 

While the requirements for becoming a poll worker vary by state, typically  potential workers must be 18 or older and registered to vote in the state where they will be working. Just about every state has some form of a student program—for ages 16 and 17—and students were also paid. 

The duties of a poll worker vary but can include issuing ballots, registering voters in states that allow same-day voter registration, monitoring voting equipment, explaining the ballot-marking process, explaining the voting equipment, counting votes, distributing stickers, lifting voting equipment (some states ensure their workers can lift 25+ pounds) and general supervision of the voting process. 

Sgt. Monica Miggins, a soldier with the 1158th Transportation Company out of Beloit, Wis., sanitizes voters’ hands before entering a polling place in Fitchburg, Wis., April 7, 2020. (Spc. Emma Anderson / Wisconsin National Guard)

This year, duties and responsibilities have changed slightly as poll workers will be required to disinfect booths and enforce social distancing. Responsibilities vary depending on the position assigned, but possible positions include: election judge, clerk, equipment operator, deputy and inspector—all of which receive different compensation.

For information on how to get become a poll worker in your state, head here.

2. Join an Election Protection Team

Here’s where to start:

Election ProtectionThe national, nonpartisan Election Protection coalition works year-round to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have that vote count. Made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, Election Protection uses a wide range of tools and activities to protect, advance and defend the right to vote. Election Protection provides Americans from coast to coast with comprehensive information and assistance at all stages of voting – from registration, to absentee and early voting, to casting a vote at the polls, to overcoming obstacles to their participation. 


  • Volunteers provide voter information, document problems they encounter when voting and work with partners and volunteers on the ground to identify and remove barriers to voting. Election Protection focuses on the voter—not on the political horse race—and provides guidance, information and help to any American, regardless of his or her voting choices.
  • Voter Assistant Call Centers—Support voters by answering their questions, helping them navigate the voting process, and responding to reports of problems.
  • Field Programs at the Polls—In select locations, volunteers go to the polls to answer voter questions in person and respond to any voting issues that arise.

Spread the VoteSpread the Vote works to ensure that people have what they need to vote. Seventy-seven percent of the people they work with have never voted before, and 100 percent of their clients cannot vote without their help. The largest population of voters in America is people who are registered to vote, but don’t turnout at the polls. Why not? Challenges with transportation, childcare, voter education, and more keep people from showing up on Election Day.

That’s why Spread the Vote does the following:

  • Obtains IDs for eligible voters in voter ID states.
  • Makes election guides for real people.
  • Creates digital and real world educational tools.
  • Educates voters.
  • Helps voters make and execute a plan to vote.

Voteriders: VoteRiders is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization providing free information and help to voters to make sure they have the right kind of ID to vote in their state. They are the leading organization focused exclusively on voter ID.

To register to vote and help others get registered, check out these organizations:

When We All VoteWhen We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. Launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle  Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, When We All Vote is changing the culture around voting using a data-driven and multifaceted approach to increase participation in elections.


  • Volunteer—Sign up to volunteer, and they will send you updates on volunteer opportunities.
  • Apply to be a voting squad captain—Build your own team and When We All Vote will provide you with all the tools, training, and resources you need to make your voter registration efforts a success.
  • Join the My School Votes Program—Students and teachers can get resources including action planning guides, voter registration guidelines, and training to execute a voter registration program at your school.

Vote Save AmericaVote Save America provides a one-stop shop for all the information and tools you need to vote and to help others vote in 2020. 

The site offers information that will help you to:

  • Register to vote or check that you are still registered to vote.
  • Request your absentee ballot so you can vote by mail.

To become involved in advocating for election and voting reforms, check out these leading organizations:

Brennan Center for JusticeThe organization works to make voting free, fair, and easy. Their reforms are modernizing American elections, starting with automatic voter registration and measures to ensure election security. And they fight restrictive voting policies that make it harder to vote.

Common CauseThis organization wins concrete, pro-democracy reforms that break down barriers to participation, ensure each of us has an equal voice and vote, and rebuild trust in our government. By empowering people like you to make change, they have an impact in every congressional district and state legislature.

Let America VoteLet America Vote was started to fight back against proposals across the country that make it harder for eligible voters to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot. They advocate for pro-voter policies that make the process more reasonable. Through online and grassroots organizing, an aggressive earned media strategy, and advertising campaigns, Let America Vote plays a crucial role among the existing network of organizations fighting for voting rights.

American Civil Liberties Union: The ACLU is engaged in advocacy and litigation across the country to get rid of harmful voter suppression measures once and for all.