We’ve heard a lot about the peril facing U.S. democracy over the last few months. How the institutions of democracy are threatened by a tide of violence, misinformation, crackpot conspiracy theories and people acting in bad faith.

In the midst of all this turmoil, the very people whose work is fundamental to maintaining democracy – election workers – are working hard and honestly in town halls, school gymnasiums, state offices and other public places to help America vote.

It can be a thankless job – and the pressure on these people is getting worse, writes political scientist Amel Ahmed, from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “The work is not lucrative – some make as little as $20,000 annually, with a national average of $50,000,” she writes.

And for those assigned such a crucial role in our democracy, there’s not much glory, says Ahmed. “With titles such as 'clerk' and 'registrar,' these jobs are not usually steppingstones to a grander political career. Those who take up these positions typically are public-service-minded, looking to give back to their communities.“

So if you’re voting today, it would be good if you said "Thank you” to your election workers. They’re making democracy work.

Also today:

Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Society

An election worker, watched by observers from both major political parties, handles 2022 midterm ballots in Phoenix, Ariz. Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images

America’s election systems are more than just machines – they’re people, who are overworked, underpaid and feeling pressured

Amel Ahmed, UMass Amherst

Local election administrators work under increasingly difficult circumstances, with dwindling resources and mounting challenges.

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