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‘There’s a need’: Nevada recruits veterans to work as poll workers

Updated April 26, 2024 - 5:24 pm

It was rainy and cold when veteran Phillip Lewis worked his first election in 2022 in North Las Vegas. He directed voters where to go in the wet tent and talked with his fellow poll workers all day.

He had a wonderful time, and he’s been working Nevada’s elections ever since.

“You meet a lot of nice people,” the 75-year-old Vietnam veteran said. “We try and all stay together and just do our job and make the election go on and keep things running.”

The North Las Vegas resident already signed up to work the next two elections. “It’s nice to do something other than sit around the house,” he said. “It’s important.”

Lewis is one of many veterans Nevada is recruiting to serve as poll workers in 2024.

Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar announced a partnership on Friday with the group Vet the Vote to encourage veterans and military family members to work elections in 2024.

“Poll workers are truly the unsung heroes of democracy,” Aguilar said at the Grant Sawyer state office building on Friday. “They are the ones protecting our fundamental right to vote. Without poll workers, it will be impossible to elect people that stand for our values and hold our elected officials accountable.”

Since election workers faced the brunt of harassment and criticism following the 2020 election, many offices have struggled to recruit poll workers, according to Aguilar. The secretary of state has made multiple efforts to increase poll workers, including pushing legislation to make harassing election workers a felony, recruiting lawyers for poll workers and promoting sporting locations as polling sites.

Time to serve again

Nevada has more than 200,000 veterans and is home to a large and active military community, Aguilar said. Seeing a veteran at polling locations will give the public confidence that their vote is in good hands, the secretary of state said.

“Today, the country needs veterans and military family members to serve again,” said Dan Vallone, director of Vet the Vote, a national initiative to recruit veterans to serve their communities as poll workers.

Vet the Vote and the secretary of state’s office will work together on events across Nevada to connect veterans with elections teams, according to Vallone, an Army veteran. The group also has a large communications strategy online to connect with veterans. Vet the Vote is also a partner with the NFL, so part of the team is at the NFL draft to get its message out, Vallone said.

In 2022, over 63,500 veteran and military members signed up to serve as poll workers, Vallone said, and his goal this year is 100,000.

Clark County hires and trains more than 2,500 people to work at the polls every election cycle, according to Registrar of Voters Lorena Portillo.

‘There’s a need’

At the Grant Sawyer building, the Clark County Election Department set up a mini polling site to show attendees how the voting process works.

Isaac Thomas, a Las Vegas resident who served in the Army for over 30 years, said this year will be his first time as a poll worker.

“There’s a need. Veterans, the values that we’ve learned over the years, we can make a difference,” he said. “It just seems like we’ve fallen short as a nation when it comes to values in the community,” he said. He thinks veterans can get more involved, and set an example to encourage others to get involved as well.

Election Day poll workers in Clark County will receive a flat rate of $200 for the day, and early voting poll workers are paid $17 per hour, according to a flyer from the county. Workers who are required to attend a training class will receive $50.

To apply to be a poll worker in Clark County, email PollWorkers@ClarkCountyNV.gov, call the election department at 702-455-2815 or submit an application online at https://clarkcounty.service-now.com/ats_applicant

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah.

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