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Voter Advocacy Groups Seek Volunteers To Watch The Polls, Social Media During Election

Voting stations at Central Baptist Church in St. Louis on March 10, 2020.
File photo / Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri chapter of Election Protection seeks volunteers to monitor polls and social media to limit voter intimidation and misinformation about voting during the election.

A coalition of voter advocacy groups is recruiting volunteers to help safeguard the election process this year.

The St. Louis Area Voter Protection Coalition, the St. Louis Area Voting Initiative and Washington University’s Center for Social Development are searching for more than 1,000 volunteers to help limit voter intimidation and misinformation this election.

In participation with the Missouri chapter of Election Protection, the local voting rights groups will host a virtual training series to teach volunteers how to report problems at the polls, on social media and through a legal hotline beginning Monday.

“It makes voters feel more secure that someone is kind of looking out for them and offering them an easy way to get information that they need to make their voting experience better,” said Jennifer Lohman, president of the St. Louis Area Voting Protection Coalition. “And ultimately, that's what it's really all about, making sure that people are able to cast their vote when they are eligible to do so.”

Election Protection is a national nonpartisan voter protection program that assists voters who have issues at polling places during elections and reports problems to legal teams to help combat voter suppression.

Some volunteers will scan all social platforms and report any false information about voting to Election Protection. Lawyers and law students will address questions from voters about legal issues they may have at the polls. Roving and field monitors will patrol polling places from a distance and provide a hotline number to voters to call if they have any problems casting their votes.

All volunteer positions are contactless and remote.

Lohman said volunteers will be the eyes and ears on the ground for voters.

Voting can be discouraging for those who run into problems at the polls, said Gena Gunn McClendon, voter access and engagement director for Washington University’s Center for Social Development.

McClendon said it’s important that voters cast their ballots without fear.

“The idea is that this is the fight for democracy, everybody has the right to vote. It’s not partisan, none of it,” McClendon said. “Everybody should equally be able to vote.”

To volunteer for field monitoring and social media positions, register here.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.