HARRISBURG, PA (WTAJ) – In honor of Help America Vote Day today, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh M. Chapman is encouraging eligible Pennsylvanians to serve as poll workers for the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election.

“It takes thousands of poll workers staffing the more than 9,000 voting locations to make safe and secure elections happen in the commonwealth,” Chapman said. “Poll workers are your friends, family members and neighbors, and they come from all walks of life to make democracy a reality.”

Help America Vote Day is the creation of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an independent, bipartisan commission charged with “developing guidance to meet the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.”

This year, the EAC designated Tuesday, Aug. 16 as Help America Vote Day, a day of action to assist poll worker recruitment efforts nationwide.

To recognize Help America Vote Day, the Department of State is featuring Pennsylvania poll workers who help facilitate elections across the commonwealth so registered voters can cast their ballot and make their voice heard.

In Allegheny County, Blithe Runsdorf has been judge of elections for more than 30 years. She oversees the polling place at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on the University of Pittsburgh campus, which is one of the largest polling precincts in the county. Runsdorf has as many as 10 poll workers helping at this location at a time. She said she prioritizes the physical set-up of the polling place to adequately accommodate the flow of voters, which can be from 500 to 2,000 people. Working the polls, Runsdorf said, is very satisfying. “You get to meet your neighbors. You`re helping them to do something they really need to do.”

In Lebanon County, Suzanne Fry got involved in elections through the League of Women Voters, where she prepared the full candidate lists for the local newspaper. Fry is in charge of the 1E Ward in the City of Lebanon. She is a master gardener and a guide for Union Canal Boat Tours, and she also presents programs on dyeing and spinning fibers. “Providing the opportunity to the citizenry to vote in a nonpartisan way and by the rules is very important to continue our democracy,” Fry said.

In Erie County, Jill Murphey worked her first election when she was 22, after her father told her one day, You’re helping the polls tomorrow.” She grew up in a politically active family and has been working as a judge of elections for the past decade at Fairview Township District 4. She said she wants to make sure everyone’s vote gets counted. Murphey said accusations of voter fraud make her “sad.”

“There are so many of us out there, Republicans and Democrats, working together,” she said.

“Elections in the commonwealth would be impossible without the thousands of selfless poll workers including Blithe, Suzanne and Jill whose work enables their neighbors to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Chapman said. “I urge any eligible Pennsylvanian who wants to get involved in their community to become a poll worker.”

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Benefits of becoming a poll worker include:

  • being paid for trainings and for Election Day work,
  • learning about elections in Pennsylvania,
  • gaining valuable work experience,
  • helping your community, and
  • making new friends.