Bill would allow college students to work at polling sites

Originally published in Newsday on July 07, 2020.

Two state legislators are proposing to change state law to expand the pool of workers at polling sites to avoid Election Day problems similar to New York's June primary.

Under the bill backed by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Nily Rozic (D-Queens), college students would be allowed to work at poll sites where they aren't registered to vote. 

State law currently requires poll-site workers to work in the election district where they live. In last month's statewide primary, many poll workers — more than half of whom are 60 years old or older — declined to work for fear of contracting COVID-19. In Suffolk County alone, about 70% of poll workers said they wouldn't show up for the primary and some polling places refused to open.

Waiving the residency requirement would widen the pool of potential workers, perhaps prevent some polling sites from shuttering on Election Day and "ensure a more efficient and secure voting process," the legislators said.

The State Legislature currently is in recess, but can convene at any time and has done so more than once to approve COVID-19-related bills since the pandemic began.