Election Day is right around the corner and while the focus has been around those who will be voting, there’s also something to be said about those who will be helping to run polls and make sure your vote is counted, the poll workers.
Recruiting poll workers is always a challenge, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified that issue. Polling places are typically staffed by older Americans but this year they are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and a shortage of workers could result in closed polling places or longer lines.
This potential shortage prompted younger people to sign up to work the polls for the first time in big numbers, and that includes Indiana Fever general manager Tamika Catchings.
“Honestly, I think this whole year of 2020 has been interesting and I would say from a growth standpoint, I am trying to learn and do something different every day than I haven’t done in the past.” Catchings said. “Then obviously with COVID, the team and the fight for social justice, there are just so many moving parts that for me it was, where do I fit in as far being able to be a change maker?”
“We talk a lot about impact. I feel like that has been my word for the last five years since I retired. By working the poles, I think it gives me an opportunity to make an impact.”
Often underappreciated, poll workers play a vital role in the election process. Their presence is often the crucial difference between a smoothly run polling site, and mass confusion and long lines. Catchings says for her it’s a responsibility that she embraces and doesn’t take lightly.
“For me personally, it’s almost like a responsibility.” Catchings replied. “An individual responsibility of being in a space and making it easy as we possibly can for people to vote.”
Catchings isn’t the only one stepping up and hoping to do their part for this year’s election. Pacers Sports & Entertainment also worked with the Marion County Election Board to make Bankers Life Fieldhouse one of 188 polling places in Marion County on November 3rd for the general election. The company is also allowing employees to volunteer to work polls on election day without having to use Paid Time Off.
“I’m super excited and one of the main reasons is because Candice Dupree came to me way back when and was like it would be really cool if we could get Bankers Life as a voting site.” Catchings said with a smile.
“This has been my home since 2001 and it’s cool to see every phase of life kind of somehow happen in or around Bankers Life. So, to start with an idea from Candice and to see it come to fruition throughout this period of time and all the work that our organization has done in order to be a safe site to come and vote, I just think what a great opportunity for all of us.”
Since she will be working the polls on November 3rd, Catchings will be taking advantage of the early voting period with her mother Wanda Catchings.
“Even though I will be working the polls, I told my mom that her and I are going to go and vote together early.” Catchings said. “It is a right that so many people fought for, so I can’t walk around and say I never had an opportunity to use my voice if I never go and vote.”
“So, go vote and wear your mask.”