On Election Day, national polls will be short at least 250,000 workers possibly leading to longer waits for voters, overtaxed volunteers, and delays in counting votes, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Due to expected heavy voter turnout, a large number of first-time voters, and new touch-screen voter machines, close to 2 million workers will be needed tomorrow. However, only about 1.75 million people have been trained as of the Friday deadline to register workers.
In spring of this year, the EAC projected that 1.4 million workers, a number similar to the 2000 election, would sign-up and be trained to man the polls on Election Day. As November neared, though, and interest increased in the election, more people volunteered leading to the higher figure, which still falls short of what's needed.
"The real impetus for people volunteering to work has been the closeness of this year's election," said Kay Stimson, spokesperson for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. "Registration is at record levels and were expected an unprecedented voter turnout near 60 percent."
Parts of the country hardest hit by worker shortages will be non-battleground states with low levels of retirees, who traditionally make-up the majority of poll workers. "Florida, for example, is a hot-bed state and doesn't have any shortages," said Ms. Stimson.
At polling stations experiencing a shortage of workers, frustration and exhaustion are expected to be high among those who are there. With stress levels high at polling places leading to delays, it will be important for all voters and their employers in shortage-prone areas to budget enough time to vote this year.