CTV Updates: Become a Poll Worker or Census Worker

Fall 2020 is a pivotal year for civic engagement and there is paying work available to ensure a strong and healthy democracy in our nation and commonwealth. 

While the presidential election often takes center stage, a wide array of local and national elections (Nov. 3) and Massachusetts primaries (Sept. 1) are taking place this year, with the potential to shape the future of the Commonwealth. Additionally, 2020 is a Census year. Census data directly impacts the allocation of billions of Federal funding dollars, as well as determines congressional, state, and local district boundaries. It is vital that we complete the count in Massachusetts to ensure everyone is represented.

Census workers and Poll Workers are crucial to the success of both the census and our elections. Not only can such roles be excellent forms of part-time employment, but they are also a cornerstone of civic engagement. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many poll workers – often over 60 and at higher risk of serious illness – are deciding to stay home this year. If you are able and willing, we highly encourage you to apply to be a census or poll worker. 

Below, we’ve answered your top questions surrounding being a poll worker and census worker in Massachusetts, with links to apply and learn more.

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of census workers?
    • Census Takers: interview household residents and update address lists.
    • Census Field Supervisors: supervise census takers, monitor progress, and ensure that the quality of work is maintained and work is completed on time.
    • Recruiting Assistants: give presentations and meet with representatives from the community, media outlets, employment agencies, etc. to promote census employment opportunities and recruit residents.
    • Clerk: perform administrative and clerical tasks in support of various functions, including payroll, personnel, recruiting, and field operations.
    • Office Operations Supervisor: Supervises clerical duties, assist in the management of office functions and day-to-day activities required to support field operations. 
    • Click here for more information and detailed job descriptions.
  • How long do these jobs last?
    • All positions for the 2020 Census are temporary. Most roles last several weeks. However, you can visit USA Jobs for potential openings at the Census Bureau.
  • Do I have to be available to work on weekends?
    • Your schedule depends on your position. While field positions are flexible, some require you to work during the day and interview members of the public, so you must be available to work evenings and weekends when people are usually at home. Certain supervisory positions require employees to be available for a particular day, evening, or weekend shifts. While most administrative work occurs during business hours, you may be required to work on weekends and evenings.
  • How much will I get paid?
    • Depending on the county, the rate is anywhere from $20 to $27.50 per hour. Click here for a map of pay rates by county. 
  • How do I apply?
    • You can apply online at 2020census.gov. Click here for the application portal.


  • What are the roles and responsibilities of poll workers?
    • Poll workers are hired by local election officials to help check-in voters, distribute ballots, tally votes, and assist voters in the polling place. This year, poll workers will also be needed to help sanitize booths and pens, direct voters, and monitor social distancing in the polling places.
  • Are these positions paid?
    • Pay depends on the municipality in which you are applying. We recommend you contact your local election office to learn more.
  • Are there requirements to be a poll worker at a particular location?
    • Generally, poll workers must be registered MA voters. 
  • Can I be registered in one city or town but be a poll worker in a different city or town?
    • YES! This year if a city or town cannot find enough poll workers, they have the option of hiring workers regardless of their registration status or political party affiliation. You do not have to be registered in the particular municipality in which you want to work.
  • Will I be given PPE (personal protective equipment) at the polling location? 
    • While most municipalities will provide PPE, it is not guaranteed, so we highly recommend you reach out to your local officials for more information. Contact information is available at workelections.com.
  • How can I apply?
    • Individual municipalities can post information, along with contact information, on the Secretary of State’s website, if they are looking for additional poll workers. Click here to visit the MA Secretary of State’s website.
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published this page in Create the Vote 2020 Updates 2020-08-17 15:07:45 -0400

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