Anne Baker was exercising at her neighborhood senior center when she first considered volunteering as an election clerk.
Her friend, who had been doing it a few years, enjoyed it and urged Baker to think about joining her. Having recently retired from her job as an accountant at a local law firm, Baker had the time, so she did.
That was eight years ago, when Baker was 68. She now trains new volunteers as a ward clerk in Bangor, where she’s been clerking at the polls since 2011. Spreading the word as it was spread to her, she has recruited her husband, Edward; a handful of friends; and two of her sisters.
Baker is the current prototype of the polling place volunteer in Maine — she’s older than 60, and she’s retired. Municipal clerks have long struggled to adequately staff elections, but an aging pool of willing workers is making this challenge more acute.
In 2016, about 88 percent of the 6,271 poll workers in Maine were older than 40 and about 60 percent were older than 60, according to data compiled by the secretary of state’s office. Maine’s numbers were slightly higher than national figures compiled that same year by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which found 56 percent of the country’s 917,694 poll clerks to be over the age of 61.