Florida’s general election this November is expected to see an increase in voter turnout and multiple counties are recruiting more election workers to help with the bigger crowds.
In Polk County, approximately 1,600 to 1,700 poll workers are hired during a general election. With only 25 office staff members, temporary workers are very important to make sure elections operate smoothly.
“It’s the community that runs an election,” said Lori Edwards, Polk County Supervisor of Elections. “The election office staff work very hard in advance to prepare everything they can, but on Election Day, we kind of hand the keys to the car over to those election workers all over Florida.”
Edwards said Polk County is still in need of workers during the early voting period and on Election Day.
“Election workers come from all walks of life. The one thing, though, that they have in common, is they really value giving back to the community,” said Edwards.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said they hire over 3,800 poll workers during general election season. Since 2016, Hillsborough has added four additional early voting sites, which has increased the need for volunteers.
“We think we’re going to have a really robust turnout and we want to be prepared for it,” said Latimer.
There are a total of 20 early voting sites in Hillsborough County, including the recently added ones at USF, Northdale Civic Center, Port Tampa, and in Valrico.
“Elections are very community-based and the people that we are looking for, and the people that we actually employ out there, are community-based, also. It’s putting on elections for your neighbors,” said Latimer.
Officials with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office are confident they will have a sufficient amount of poll workers based on previous years.
“There is always a need, but we don’t have an increased need (this election),” said spokesman Dustin Chase. They are, however, looking for Spanish-speaking poll workers during this upcoming election.
In Manatee County, approximately 600 workers are still needed. Once a person applies, an interview is set up to determine if they are eligible.
Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner said, “We will hire maybe 200 to 250 more poll workers that will work on Election Day.” The primary election had a record number of voters and he expects a big turnout for the general election as well.
Pasco County has been successful in recruiting poll workers and are almost done recruiting with only about 20 still needed.
Editor's note: The story has been updated to indicate that counties hire poll workers and do not use volunteers.