In a new move to secure the 2020 election, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is letting Federal government employees serve as poll workers on election day – an effort election security officials are praising as critical.

“As election officials continue to adjust processes and procedures to keep everyone safe, it’s become clear the nation needs more poll workers, as many who typically volunteer tend to be older and are higher risk,” Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said. “OPM’s decision will allow our Federal workers to step up and do their part. I encourage all Americans who are healthy and able to participate in the process and consider volunteering as a poll worker.”

Government employees who request time off to serve as a non-partisan election worker will be granted an excused absence by agency officials, per the new OPM rule. OPM wrote that the additional poll worker support on election day should reduce waiting time at the polls and support strengthened election security. Election security officials agreed that OPM’s decision expands the number of eligible poll workers able to serve the shifting election environment.

Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Ben Hovland said, “OPM’s decision is a great step in support of local election offices and their efforts to fill these critical positions for the upcoming election.”

Agency leaders are asked to use their discretion to grant excused poll workers absences to ensure that mission needs continue to be met. OPM notes that excused absences “should rarely be needed” as polling places are open for an extended period and many jurisdictions are offering early voting options. Of note, Feds are already granted some excused time off to vote on election day.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.