State maintains recruitment of younger poll workers amid pandemic

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — COVID-19 continues to change what polling places look like in Tennessee.

The workers are getting a little younger after a recruitment effort by the secretary of state’s office.

Some states could not find enough poll workers for their summer primaries, but Tennessee was not one of them.

“We did not have to close a single polling location in August,” says the state’s Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins. “Tennesseans stepped up.”

He wants to keep it that way in a November election that promises at least two-and-a-half times more voters than in the statewide August primary with a presidential race at the top of the ticket.

“One of the things that we did do and we want to continue to do is to recruit enough poll officials,” added Goins.

With active recruitment from the state to get new poll workers in this age of COVID-19 there comes an emphasis on younger individuals for the jobs of checking registration and helping individuals who have in-person voting questions.

Most Tennesseans are eligible to work as a poll official. For more information and to apply to become a poll official, visit

“We asked the legislature in March once COVID started hitting…to open the poll for poll officials ’cause it became apparent this was going to be a huge issue nationwide. They lowered the age from 17 to 16,” added the state coordinator of elections.

Goins estimates that across Tennessee, there were 500 poll workers between the ages of 16 and 21 years of age. He said some of the youngest poll workers had never even been inside a polling place before they started their duties since they are not yet old enough to vote.

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