During the 2020 election, the opportunity for every American to vote in a free and fair election was at risk. Because of COVID-19, the older Americans who typically carry most of the burden of keeping our polling places open had to stay home to protect their health. The resulting shortage of poll workers could have meant closed polling places and long delays in communities across the country.

Through the Campus Compact Safe Elections Project, students stepped up. Campus Compact enlisted and trained Student Recruiters who went on to enlist over 4,700 of their fellow students to serve as poll workers for the November 2020 election. Student Recruiters were trained to be effective digital organizers and educators about the importance of poll workers for our democracy. Campus Compact was proud to partner with Power the Polls to recruit a new wave of poll workers to ensure a safe, secure, healthy, and fair election for all.

Mobilizing Students to Power the Polls

Recruiting Poll Workers

Student recruiters were asked to complete 33 hours of work and received $500 stipients.


  • Be a student or recent grad from a Campus Compact member institution
  • Attend a Campus Compact Student Recruiter training
  • Agree to abide by all relevant local, state, and federal laws
  • Submit a recruitment plan
  • Submit a recruitment log that details your efforts to recruit student poll workers

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a student recruiter?

Student Recruiters recruit fellow students and other young, healthy people to serve as poll workers on Election Day. They were paid to work virtually over the course of 3 weeks to educate their peers, both on campus and within their personal networks, about the current need for poll workers, how they can help, and where to sign up.

What do poll workers do?

There are many kinds of jobs for poll workers to do, including helping voters maintain physical distance in lines, wiping down machines and equipment, and helping voters check-in, understand their ballots, and cast their vote. With absentee and mail voting, poll workers also help open and count mailed ballots.

Are poll workers paid?

Poll worker pay varies by location. In most cases, you will be paid with a check for a day’s worth of work. In some cases, poll working may be voluntary and not paid.

Can anyone be a poll worker?

Qualifications vary by jurisdiction. Many states require poll workers to be registered to vote in the state or their local jurisdiction. In some cases, younger people who aren’t yet eligible to vote can also serve as poll workers.

If I'm working the polls, when do I vote?

Poll workers usually cast their votes early or by mail, but some cast their votes on Election Day. Certain jurisdictions may require poll workers to vote early or via absentee ballot. Please contact your local elections official for details about how poll workers cast their ballots.

Can I take the day off to work the polls?

In many states, companies must give workers time off to vote by law, and some companies are creating or extending policies to allow time off for poll working. Ask your employer and encourage colleagues to join you.

We are also encouraging colleges and universities to enact policies that excuse absences for student poll workers.

Does it matter if I'm a Democrat, Republican, or Independent?

Poll working is usually a non-partisan activity and your party affiliation does not matter, but in some states poll workers are matched to locations in pairs based on their party registration. Applications in some jurisdictions may ask you for party registration information.