Veterans group kicks off campaign at Super Bowl to attract poll workers for November election
Stars and Stripes February 9, 2024
A veterans group is partnering with the NFL ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas to build trust about voting in the upcoming presidential election and recruit military families as volunteer poll workers in November.
“We are in Vegas to promote positive patriotism,” said Joe Plenzler, a Marine Corps veteran and board member with We the Veterans, a nonprofit that kicked off the “2024 Vet the Vote” campaign this week at the Super Bowl Experience, which runs through Saturday at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in the host city.
Thousands of Super Bowl fans are in attendance and checking out the Vet the Vote campaign booth, he said, in addition to attending autograph sessions with the players and going to other football-oriented activities. The NFL is among 36 organizations supporting the 2024 Vet the Vote campaign.
We the Veterans seeks to build upon its success in 2022 during the midterm elections, when it turned out more than 63,000 former service members and their family members as election volunteers. Veterans and their families helped fill a substantial shortfall of poll workers two years ago, Plenzler said.
We the Veterans has a goal to recruit 100,000 veterans and family members as election workers in November. Election workers serve at polling places in their communities, from early voting through Election Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The focus in Las Vegas this week is on the pregame activities, as the veterans organization seeks to engage Super Bowl fans already energized about Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco Giants.
We the Veterans is engaging visitors about their role as voters in choosing the next president and reaching out to fellow veterans to help out at polling places in the cities and towns where they reside.
“We are actively asking veterans and their families to serve their communities,” said Plenzler, who served in the Marine Corps for 20 years, retiring in 2015.
“I walked into training [to be a poll worker] as one of the world’s biggest skeptics and I left as a convert. It’s one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done,” said Plenzler, who serves as a volunteer poll worker — along with his wife, a military veteran — in their home state of Virginia. “The training not only taught me how to be a poll worker but demonstrated to me just how granular and detailed the security is around elections.”
In addition to work this week in Las Vegas to educate voters and recruit volunteers, We the Veterans also will be giving away two Super Bowl tickets to a veteran volunteer. At the Vet the Vote website, people can learn about registering to vote in their communities, volunteering as poll workers and checking their voting registration status.
“I think that we in this country are too often told that we are more divided than we really are,” said Plenzler, who spent four years in the military as an infantry officer with deployments in Japan, followed by 16 years as a public affairs officer, including at the Pentagon. “Voters in this country may be of different parties — Democrats, Republicans, independents — but we are able to put aside political differences and work together to have fair and free elections.”