Thank You for Your Service!

Cheers for poll workers, our unsung election heroes! Have you got what it takes to perform this key civic duty? 

Philadelphia is getting ready for its upcoming elections, and they really need more poll workers. The city has 1,703 places where people can vote, and all of these spots need to be set up early in the morning and then taken down after the votes are counted. There were some problems with not having enough staff in the past, so it’s really important to have enough helpers this time.

Amy Widestrom from the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania says that being a poll worker lets you see how elections work up close. It’s a good way to make sure elections are done right and safely. Though typically local elections don’t bring a lot of people out to the polls, this year they’re expecting a higher turnout, which means they need even more hands on deck!

Poll workers do different jobs like helping people at the voting machines, checking them in, and giving out those “I voted” stickers that everyone loves. They get paid an average of $200 for their day’s work, and if they can speak another language and help translate, they could earn closer to $300.

Working at the polls can also teach you a lot about voting and how everything works, which is great for clearing up any confusion about the voting process. Amy mentioned that it’s a good way to feel connected to what’s happening in elections, especially when a lot of people are feeling unsure about it.

After the 2020 elections, some poll workers faced tough situations like being intimidated or harassed. That’s why they make sure there are constables at each voting site to keep things safe. They offer training for new poll workers online and in person, so they’re ready for anything.

Young people are getting involved too. Kavi Shahnawaz, 19, started helping at elections before they were even old enough to vote through a school program called “Involved at 17.” Now in college, Kavi is all about getting more students to join in. They believe it’s really important for young people to start taking part in their community early on.

Recruiting poll workers has been up and down, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic made some people nervous about being in crowded places. But things are looking up! With six weeks to go before the primary election, they’ve got more people signed up to help than they expected. They still need more, though, to make sure every voting place has enough workers.

So, if you’re from Philly, this could be your chance to help out, see how elections work, and maybe even work alongside your neighbors to keep everything running smoothly on election day.

Candidate information,
enroll to be a poll worker and find education sessions | Vote411
Poll worker 101 | Committee of 70
Find your polling place and/or register to vote | Philadelphia City Commissioners

This article is a summary of Vicky Diaz-Camacho’s excellent article originally published February 22, 2024 on and printed in April’s edition of The Local paper though a N.I.C.E. Shared Content agreement. 


Democracy requires participation! So last year, I volunteered as a poll worker to help keep our elections running smoothly and ensure that every vote counts. I’m Sarah – writer, dreamer, Philadelphian; mom to two college-age kids. This is my Election Story.

Sign Up & Training:  I signed up at the City Commissioners office, which has a quick form at If there’s an opening in your ward, you’ll get called back in details on paid training —  you get $50 to attend a brief informative meeting, available mornings, afternoons, and evenings the entire month leading up to an election.

Training involves learning how to set up (and work) a voting machine, and then you run through a typical Election Day. I found all the rules and responsibilities very interesting, it was reassuring to see all the extra layers of security for our votes, and the care PA takes to make the process accessible to every eligible voter no matter what their needs.

** ELECTION DAY ** (It’s GO time!)


5am: Though the polls don’t open until 7 or 8am, a poll worker’s day begins at 6am – and averages around 15 hours. We set everything up so it’s ready to go as soon as voting officially begins, and then after the polls close, we wrap everything up following specific procedures. My assigned polling place was just a few minutes away from my apartment, so I could walk over.
6:15am: There were about six of us, and our first job was to set up tables and chairs and the voting stations in the school gym that was our polling place. A few old hands had thought to bring donuts and coffee, and of course I indulged in a Boston Cream (my favorite) because I’m doing a good deed so the calories don’t count. 🤣
6:30am: After some paperwork and an oath (!), we teamed up for action in two parts: one manned the administrative part of the election (checking names, finding ballots, translations, etc) and the other was in charge of the equipment, and assisting voters as needed in the physical process of casting their ballot. I was in the latter team, on privacy screen detail.
7am: Polls in Pennsylvania opened. I sat by the check-in table with my first job: looking up voters by name to verify they’re registered to vote here, then having them sign the poll book. Then another poll worker (Cheryl) would direct them to the touchscreen voting machines, which record each voter’s selections electronically, while also printing a paper copy of every ballot as well.
8am: The whole hour rushed by with a steady stream of voters. Seems lots of people like to vote before work.
10:30am: Drama! Someone’s Tesla got towed. So exciting I treated myself to another donut.


12pm: The lunch rush was even bigger than the morning one.
1pm: Lunch was Wawa hoagies, chips, soda, cookies.
2:30pm: Things slowed down so we all kind of touched based on our day with various election officials (and each other). We had quite a few voters at the wrong voting place, but that’s an easy problem to solve. Some people requested mail-in ballots and then showed up to vote in person anyway. Not a big deal, but a few folks had to come back with their mail-in ballot because we need to void it first.
3pm: I switched places with Len to help Val hand out “I Voted” stickers, which was fun.
4pm: 10 hours in, just a few more to go! A few of us GenXers killed some downtime singing Kroft Superstars theme songs quietly amongst ourselves.


5pm: Voters started coming in again around 5 and then by 5:30 we were in another rush, not quite as busy as that morning but close, and it seemed to last a little longer too I guess as people rolling in from work.
7pm: This last hour was pretty dead, except for short joyful bursts of voters who seemed very glad they weren’t too late.
8pm: Polls officially close! Time to break down and follow through on step-by-step instructions to ensure that ballots and other voting materials were secured safely, voting equipment was properly shut down and put away, and the space was returned to its original condition.
8:45pm: On the way out, there were so hugs and high-fives, and lots of thank you’s. I really felt appreciated, and so glad I could help out these dedicated people who come out every election because they really believe in voting, they really want every voice to be heard.

You can bet I’ll be working the polls at this month’s election, April 23rd. If you have the time, I’d highly recommend this very satisfying civic experience.

This April 23rd, Philadelphia voters will cast Primary Election ballots for many important offices, view all candidates here at the link to

🗳️👍 GET READY TO VOTE — APRIL 23rd! Pennsylvanians will be choosing our party’s nominee for president and our representatives in the US House and Senate. We’ll also vote on nominees for attorney general, auditor general, treasurer, and representatives for the General Assembly.

To check your registration status, visit IWILLVOTE.COM/PA (last day to register to vote for this election was April 8th; last day to request a mail-in ballot is April 16th). Thank you for your civic engagement! A better world depends on us all caring, and doing our part. 🙏🫂💙

Thoughts? Questions? Please leave them below in the Comments.

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