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How poll workers serve the dual purpose of helping their community, educating against misinformation

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 25, 2022

CLEVELAND — Recent polls show roughly a third of American voters and more than half of Republicans don't believe President Biden legitimately won the election in 2020. Confronting misinformation is something election officials find themselves dealing with all of the time.

"To be clear you get this hyperbole both from the left and the right," said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. "There's this tendency by Republicans to overemphasize the existence of voter fraud. You get this tendency by Democrats to overemphasize the existence of voter suppression. I think reasonable people should be able to agree that voter fraud and voter suppression are bad, they're illegal, they're intolerable," he said. "But unfortunately there's all of this false information that circulates about elections administration."

The best way for anyone person who has doubts about the process or is simply curious LaRose said, is to get involved in the process and become a poll worker.

"Here's one of the best ways to be an elections expert, get your master's degree in elections administration," LaRose said. "You'll have first-hand experience, you'll get three and a half hours of training at your county board of elections."

"You'll see first hand all of the safeguards that exist, the bi-partisan oversight, all of the security procedures that we put in place to make sure that the elections are honest and you'll come away from it when the polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Night, not only with a sense of confidence that the elections were held correctly once again but also a sense of satisfaction knowing that you were part of it."

LaRose comments came on National Poll Worker Recruitment Day which also fittingly fell during National News Literacy Week where the focus is on eliminating misinformation.

"If I could get a bumper sticker made and put on thousands of cars it would say think before you share," LaRose said. "There's so much dubious nonsense on social media, people get unfortunately information from unreliable sources."

That's what makes the role of the poll worker that much more valuable these days in dispelling mistruths. For Tucker Handley of North Olmsted being a poll worker has been an eye-opening education.

"When you see the results on TV you just don't see the whole background so that was really eye-opening for me and then just to be a part of that was really gratifying."

Same for Lisa Wong who often finds herself sharing what she's seen as a poll worker with people who haven't had the behind-the-scenes view.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there and knowing what I know from working elections I'm able to answer questions," Wong said.

Questions after 2020 are in part what prompted Debra Hegler to sign up. "There was so much controversy and stuff around the election I wanted to get more involved than just voting," she said.

To sign up, click here.