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Following Issue One report, Dept. of Education clarifies Federal Work Study guidelines permitting election offices to hire college students

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Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

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This week, the Department of Education issued a clarification that permits Federal Work Study (FWS) funds to be used to hire college students to work in election offices.

These students’ work would be paid for by federal funds already appropriated for the FWS program, lessening the financial burden on election officials and freeing up their limited funds to be used for other purposes. This could provide an influx of election workers in advance of the 2024 election. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the clarification on February 27 and the Department of Education issued a toolkit to guide implementation.

This announcement follows an Issue One report published last year which made the case that FWS funds could be used for this purpose, as well as congressional encouragement for the department to clarify existing language.

Issue One issued the following statement in response to this news:

“Americans can trust their local and state election administrators to keep our elections free, safe, and secure. But the loss of experienced election workers is a growing concern for election offices nationwide with the 2024 election on the horizon,” said Amber McReynolds, a former election official and current member of Issue One’s bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity and Faces of Democracy campaign. “By clarifying Federal Work Study rules to allow local election offices to recruit college students to serve as election workers, we have an opportunity to not only help solve the critical staff shortage, but to also create a new generation of civically engaged young Americans.”

Added Issue One CEO and Founder Nick Penniman: “Now is the perfect time for universities and election offices to build strong partnerships that place students in local election offices. Election administration is a patriotic and noble career path, and by working in this field, students will have an opportunity to gain both a diverse set of skills and an appreciation for civic engagement and democracy. Together, we can pave the way for a stronger and more inclusive political landscape in years to come.”