“Ready to cast your ballot?” Minturn Wright asks each voter that comes up to him with a marked ballot at the Annunciation Church vote center.
Wright, 63, has been a poll worker in Washington, D.C., for 30 years and has been a site coordinator for several of these elections. Expecting a good turnout on Election Day, Wright said he and workers at his site feel safe and prepared for today’s voters.
“I haven’t heard of anyone being threatened around here [and] I haven’t heard of anyone being afraid of being threatened,” Wright said. “It may simply be that this is a small, closed-in city, and therefore being able to make anonymous threats isn’t as easy.”
Since 2020, threats to election workers, from top elected officials to citizen volunteers, have skyrocketed in other areas of the U.S., according to the Center for American Progress. With many former volunteers fearful of persecution, cities nationwide are reporting lower turnout for election workers this year.
Nick Jacobs, public information officer for the D.C. Board of Elections, said overall, they have not seen these risks come to the nation’s capital.
“We’ve pretty much been spared all of that,” he said.
Today’s election worker numbers are on par with previous years in D.C., Jacobs said, with just under 1,900 workers trained as of last week.
Robin Raphel, who describes herself as “semi-retired,” is at Annunciation Church today for her first time as an election worker. As a voter assistance clerk, Raphel said her job is “to ease the way for people” by greeting those who come inside, helping voters submit their completed ballots, and giving them an “I voted” sticker at the end.
“It’s meant to be a pleasant experience, so that people keep coming to vote,” Raphel said.
Training, a four-hour class required for all workers, involved learning how to assist voters, including anyone with disabilities, Raphel said. Security is also a part of training, according to Jacobs, who said workers learned how to ensure ballots are protected and safely returned from the site to the D.C. Board of Elections for tabulation.
“We ensure that all locations are safe and secure both to protect ballots and to protect voters and election workers,” Jacobs said.
At Annunciation Church, like other voting sites, Wright said their ballot box inside is under lock and key. At the end of today, he and another witness will take out the ballots for them to be transported in a specially sealed bag by an election worker and police officer to the Board of Elections.
“I think the District of Columbia does a pretty good job, cumbersome though it is, of making sure the will of the people is duly recorded,” Wright said.