Facebook launching poll worker recruitment push this weekend

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Facebook is launching a recruitment drive for poll workers this weekend, putting messages into users’ News Feeds with links to poll worker registration sites in their state. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post announcing the drive that it was part of the company’s larger voting information campaign, which has a goal of helping 4 million people register and vote.

“Voting is voice, and in a democracy, it’s the ultimate way we hold our leaders accountable and make sure the country is heading in the direction we want,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The social media giant also will join dozens of other companies offering paid time off to employees in the US who work the polls on Election Day, according to Zuckerberg’s post.

Voting rights groups have been warning for months that the US could be facing a shortage of poll workers in November. Many, if not most, poll workers are senior citizens who may decide to stay home on election day due to the coronavirus pandemic. It can be long hours, but the job is fairly straightforward and involves greeting voters, checking their registration, and guiding them to a voting booth. Anyone over 16 can register to work at the polls, but more than 70 percent of states and jurisdictions were having difficulty staffing the jobs even before the pandemic.

Last month, Facebook launched a voting information center, which will shift its focus as Election Day approaches, providing information about registration and poll worker recruitment, and later moving to specifics about the voting process and eventually, election results.

Facebook has taken other steps to avoid further election-related chaos on its platforms. The company said earlier this month it would stop taking new political advertising in the US in the week before the election, in an attempt to protect against election interference. And it’s apparently paying some users to log off its platforms ahead of the election, as part of a research experiment.

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