Urgent need for poll workers in key cities just days before New Hampshire primary

Some New Hampshire communities are still looking for poll workers. By Robert Hoetink

By Stacy Milbouer

January 16, 2024

With less than a week away until the Jan. 23, New Hampshire Primary elections, communities are still looking for poll workers. Some of those communities are the state’s largest cities including Nashua, Manchester, Keene, Portsmouth, and Concord.

Keene, the state’s 10th-largest community, is still looking for election day greeters, voter registration volunteers, and voter volunteers, according to the city’s website. The city clerk said the community has to “augment our typical team” because of the anticipated numbers expected to vote as well as the write-in ballot count.

New Hampshire is not the only state with poll worker shortages. According to The National Conference of State Legislators, election officials face three major problems in recruiting and retaining poll workers. They include low pay, and the requirement for bipartisan workers, which, according to the organization’s website, “while a long-standing practice, can hinder poll worker recruitment.” The last reason is that “poll workers, like election officials, face threats and harassment in the post-2020 political environment.”

Some New Hampshire municipalities are also taking into consideration Democratic results that may take longer than usual because of the write-in campaign for President Joe Biden, whose name will not appear on the ballot. Write-in ballots have to be counted by hand.

Russ Feingold, president of the American Constitution Society, believes “becoming a poll worker is one of the most impactful things an individual can do to protect election security and voting access in their community. Our country is in the midst of a struggle between securing the promise of a multiracial democracy and succumbing to authoritarianism … One of the most impactful ways this election cycle … is to serve as a poll worker.”

According to VOTE411 to be a poll worker in the state, a resident must:

  • Be registered to vote in New Hampshire
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be entitled to compensation
  • Political affiliation required
  • Be a resident of the voting district
  • Complete required training

Nashua City Clerk Daniel Healey said, while the city did hold a training session last week, it’s not too late to step up to the plate. “Everyone who works should attend training … If there is a need, we continue recruiting election workers up until every spot is filled. In the past, we have had residents call on election day and make sure they meet with election staff to review training before beginning a shift.”

He said much of the city’s election staff are residents who have worked before.

 “With each election,” he said. “There are always some new workers recruited. We had one ward that had quite a few vacancies due to no one signing up during the municipal filing period but through various methods, we have that ward mostly staffed. We are however always looking for more residents to work the elections and overall I believe we will have adequate coverage for the Presidential Primary. But I do welcome any efforts to help us expand our recruiting and add more interested residents to our pool of election workers.”

To find out about signing up for poll work, residents need to contact their city or town clerk.

 

Author

  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | POLITICS | VOTING

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