There's a Shortage of Poll Workers in 2020. Here's How You Can Become One

Uphold democracy and maybe make a few hundred dollars, too.
Uphold democracy and maybe make a few hundred dollars, too.
adamkaz/iStock via Getty Images

Conducting a modern presidential election in the midst of a pandemic is a challenging endeavor, to say the least. While many states are working to make mail-in voting possible for their constituents, there’s still a huge need for volunteers to run in-person voting stations.

It’s not the first time poll workers have been hard to come by. As election law analyst Jonathan Diaz writes for CNN, district feedback after the 2018 elections revealed that around two-thirds of reporting jurisdictions had difficulty procuring volunteers. It’ll likely be even tougher this year, in part because most poll workers are usually older Americans, and some might forgo volunteering to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, the increase in early in-person voting options means districts will require even more volunteers than usual.

If districts can’t secure enough poll workers, they may have to reduce the number of polling locations. Not only could this impact voter turnout, but it could also make voting less safe: maintaining social distance isn’t easy in a long, cramped queue, and waiting around prolongs your exposure to pathogens.

In short, it’s critically important for people—especially young people without preexisting conditions—to volunteer at the polls this year. And volunteer doesn’t necessarily mean work for free; many jurisdictions pay their poll workers, and that often includes whatever time you spend in a training session. Other details, like eligibility requirements, application process, and day-of duties also vary by district. If you’re free on or around Election Day (November 3), you can find information about becoming a poll worker by choosing your state and district on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website here.

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20

Lasko/Amazon

This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25

Alrocket/Amazon

Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79

De’Longhi/Amazon

If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70

Aikoper/Amazon

Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37

Isiler/Amazon

For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various

Hiland/Amazon

The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Pizza to the Polls Lets You Donate (or Request) a Pizza Delivery to a Polling Place This Election Season

 Alan Hardman, Unsplash
Alan Hardman, Unsplash

Pizza makes nearly any situation better. That's definitely true during election season, when voters can easily spend the better part of an hour waiting in line with nothing to do. In order to make the less-glamorous parts of voting a little more bearable, Pizza to the Polls is carrying on its mission to deliver free pizzas to voters in 2020, CNN reports.

The nonpartisan organization formed in 2016 in response to reports of long lines during the 2016 election. They offered a simple service: free pizza to voters waiting in line regardless of their political affiliation.

In the four years since, the group has continued to fuel people performing their civic duty. Pizza to the Polls delivered nearly 11,000 pizzas to voters at 611 polling locations across 41 states in 2018. Election Day 2020 is still more than a month away, but Pizza to the Polls has already provided 2098 pizzas to citizens voting early in 19 states this year.

The majority of the pies ordered by Pizza to the Polls are funded by small donors giving $20 or less to the organization. If you're looking for a way to support the voting process during this year's election, donating a pie or two is a fun option. And if you'd like to benefit from the service, you can head to Pizza to the Polls' website to report a long line in need of sustenance when you're waiting to cast your vote.

[h/t CNN]