A coalition of groups dedicated to veterans, service members, and civics have joined together to find a solution to a widespread election worker shortage in advance of the upcoming midterm elections.
The coalition, knowns as Vet the Vote, is led by the nonpartisan organization We the Veterans and is looking to recruit as many as 100,000 former service members and other members of the military community to volunteer at polling places.
A lack of volunteers to work polls has emerged in recent months. Part of this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing many poll workers, most of whom are older retirees, to stop volunteering. Harassment of poll workers following the 2020 presidential election has also driven away volunteers.
"Our mission is to empower the 17 million-plus veterans and millions more military family members to strengthen American democracy by reducing the impact of mis-, dis-, and malinformation, countering anti-democratic forces and increasing positive civic engagement," Anil Nathan, one of We the Veterans’ executive directors, told Military.com.
"This has zero connection or affiliation to any level of partisanship," Nathan continued. "We know that without poll workers, there are a lot of consequences for election site delays and closures, which are ultimately — regardless of who you support from a political perspective — a bad outcome when people are not able to exercise their freedom to exercise their right to vote freely and fairly."
Ellen Gustafson, one of the group's co-founders, added the coalition intends to focus their efforts on the states that are most in need of assistance, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
"What we know is that veterans and our community are really well-dispersed across the country, and we are hoping that by doing a national push, we can engage as many veterans as possible," she told Military.com. "But then if we do need to get more local in terms of areas where the need is exceptionally great, we hope that through incredible partner organizations, we can target some of those communities."
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