With COVID-19 running rampant across the US, people aren’t exactly itching to spend hours inside their local polling station come November. Staff shortages, however, mean long lines and even longer delays in vote counting.
So what will it take to entice folks to participate in the democratic process this year? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes a social media plug might do the trick.
Over the weekend, the social network launched a poll worker recruitment drive, “making it easy for people to sign up and serve as a poll worker with their state election authorities,” Zuckerberg said in a Friday announcement. Simply look for a message atop the News Feed inviting US users aged 18 and older to “become a poll official.” Facebook employees, meanwhile, can earn paid time off for ditching work to volunteer at the polls on Nov. 3.
“This recruitment drive is part of Facebook’s larger voting information campaign, with the goal to help 4 million people register and vote,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Voting is voice, and in a democracy, it’s the ultimate way we hold our leaders accountable and make sure the country is heading in the direction we want,” he added, seemingly forgetting Facebook’s role in Russia’s misinformation campaign that tainted the 2016 presidential election.
As part of the effort, Zuckerberg & Co. are offering free ad credits to every state election authority, in hopes of recruiting poll workers across Facebook’s platforms (including Instagram and WhatsApp). California was among the first to take advantage of the feature, with more states expected to join.
“With COVID affecting our communities, this election will be unlike any other we’ve seen,” according to Zuckerberg. “We are doing everything we can to help as many people as possible register and make their voice heard at the ballot box.”
If you dismissed the call to become an election official as spam or haven’t received an in-app message, check out the poll worker section in the Voting Information Center, housed in the menu bar on Facebook.