Thursday, September 10, 2020

House report warns of poll-worker shortage in swing states

"States risk not having enough poll workers on Election Day if they do not step up efforts to help local election officials recruit and prepare for the November presidential election, a new congressional report warns," Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty. The Democrat-controlled House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis "analyzed the election preparations of four states—Florida, Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin—and found they all face a potential shortage of these crucial temporary workers, which could lead to significant delays for voters who cast ballots in person."

Georgia needs 20,000 poll workers, but the report said only 5,000 possible workers had been found. Since the report, about 10,000 more have signed up, Stanley Dunlap reports for Georgia Public Broadcasting. Dougherty County said it had only 29 volunteers but needs 196. Its county seat, Albany, and surrounding areas are majority-Black areas that have been hit hard by the pandemic, Noble reports.

"In-person voting may be particularly important in Georgia on Election Day, as the state is not sending absentee-ballot applications to voters for the general election the same way it did for the primaries this year," Noble reports. "The other three states did not identify the total number of poll workers needed statewide. The report faults them for not overseeing statewide recruitment efforts and instead leaving preparations up to local officials."

Poll workers will be critical in Texas too, which has not expanded mail-in voting. There could be a poll-worker shortage in half of the state's counties, Noble reports. The report recommends that states "move swiftly and proactively" to ensure safer and more successful in-person voting.

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