Three volunteers prepare for a day of voter outreach. (Photo courtesy Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center)

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Those wanting to be good citizens and volunteer on Election Day probably should have spoken up last summer.  

Heightened voter awareness campaigns in 2020 have generated so much interest in the democratic process that officials are turning away volunteers in all nine Bay Area counties the day before Election Day. 

“We have had a surplus of workers for months,” said Scott Konopasek, assistant registrar of voters in Contra Costa County. “People have been selfless in their willingness to serve this election. We have turned down hundreds of volunteers.” 

“We are fully staffed at our polling places, and have at least 1,000 backup volunteers,” said Lynda Roberts, Marin County’s registrar of voters. 

“No volunteers needed for Solano County,” said John Gardener, assistant registrar of Solano county. “We’re still at 125 percent capacity.” 

Poll workers are the lifeblood of Election Day. In California, poll workers must be a registered state voter or a legal resident of the United States who would be eligible to vote except for citizenship status. High school students are also eligible to work at polls if they are at least 16 on Election Day, have a 2.5 grade point average, have permission from parents and their school, and attend a training session. 

Poll workers set up and close polling places, help voters understand their rights and protect ballots. State law allows California residents to take time off from work without losing pay. 

Poll workers are usually paid, the amount of which varies by county. To be a poll worker – in the future, since this year’s spots are more than full – you can apply at pollworker.sos.ca.gov or contact your county elections office. 

“We had 4,800 people volunteer for the four days; so we have plenty of volunteers,” said Tim Dupuis, Alameda County’s registrar of voters. 

“We are lucky to have an overabundance of volunteers,” said Evelyn Mendez, the registrar of voters in Santa Clara County.