Nonpartisan group of law students organize to help recruit poll workers in Wisconsin

Posted at 11:28 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-19 00:28:33-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Wisconsin is still in high demand for election inspectors as we near the 2020 Presidential Election, and a group of law students is trying to get the word out.

The Alliance of Students at Polls, or ASAP Elections, is a national and nonpartisan network of law students acting as intermediary resources between election officials seeking poll workers and citizens interested in becoming poll workers. The group has been working with UW-Madison and Marquette University to involve their law students as state election officials continue to ask for paid inspectors.

"It's a good, nonpartisan way to have a real impact on the election," ASAP Elections co-founder Max Weiss said. "For Wisconsin, there's a huge need for poll workers. The older population simply can't do it."

According to Reid Magney, public information officer for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, clerks usually have their fall poll workers set by now ahead of the upcoming election, but coronavirus has changed everything, from older inspectors withdrawing themselves to the increased need for absentee ballot handlers.

Clerks and the Commission also have to consider that anyone locked in to be a poll worker by now could fall ill with coronavirus between now and Election Day.

"Usually in 2018 or 2016, most clerks had all of their poll workers lined up by now," Magney said. "But there are shortages now."

"Mostly it's been retired people that have served their community that have been doing that, but because of the pandemic, some of them may not feel comfortable, or their doctor says maybe you shouldn't do that because you might have an immune condition," Magney said. "We know the virus is much more deadly for older people, so we understand people if they have served before and don't feel they can do it now, that they step aside temporarily until this is over."

"Statistically, it is way safer for younger people to step up and fill those shoes," Weiss said.

There are two ways to become a poll worker in Wisconsin: by local party nomination or applying directly through your village, town, or city clerk's office. You can find your local clerk's office information at

While the rate varies across the Badger State, election inspectors are paid for their time spent training beforehand and working on Election Day.

"It's paid. It's money. You're going to make money if you do it," Weiss said. "I think there's a lot of students or people our age that unfortunately need that money. Especially in the pandemic, with unemployment rates as high as they are."

Additionally, there are many jobs you could do as an election inspector on Election Day in Wisconsin as well as times you could work -- either a full day or split shift, according to Magney.

"Think about the person that checks you in, checks your ID when you get to the polling place. Think about the person that greets you to double check that you're in the right place. There's the people that hand you the ballots, the people who sort of stand by the voting equipment in case there's a problem when you put your ballot in it, answer questions, hand you a "I voted" sticker," Magney listed.

Other titles with specific -- and paid -- training include being a Chief Election Inspector, Tabulator, or Election Registration Official. Most but not all positions require at least performing Election Day duties within the county they live in.

Wisconsin is one of 46 states that allow students to serve as poll workers under age 18, which could some of the youth the state is longing for.

Students aged 16-17 qualify if they have:

  • at least a 3.0 GPA (need written approval from principal if below)
  • are enrolled in grades 9-12 at a public, private or tribal high school
  • have written approval from parent or guardian
  • live in the designated municipality

For working citizens, state law requires employers to grant any employee one day of unpaid leave to serve as a poll worker if the employee provides notice seven days in advance of Election Day.

If you consider yourself less vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic and are both willing and able to be an election inspector this fall, contact your local clerk's office to get started.