Amid coronavirus, election officials worried about poll workers showing up

Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, voted early Thursday at the Board of Election office. Whaley talked about the importance of early voting in light of the coronavirus. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

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Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, voted early Thursday at the Board of Election office. Whaley talked about the importance of early voting in light of the coronavirus. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

Local election officials are concerned that poll workers won’t show up to help run voting locations Tuesday because of concerns about coronavirus.

They are urging people – such as college students on Spring Break, high-schoolers age 17 or over and teachers off work – to consider working on Election Day. The job is one day and pays $120 or more.

“At this point we have enough people to cover the polling locations that are open,” said Jan Kelly, Montgomery County Board of Elections director. “However we’re concerned about cancellations.”

Voting locations are traditionally heavily staffed by retirees who might be concerned they are at elevated risk from the virus because of their age. Kelly said if they can’t come on Election Day, then need to call ahead of time.

“Being a no-show is not acceptable. Call and let us know,” she said.

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It takes more than 1,500 poll workers in Montgomery County alone to run an election like Tuesday’s primary. They work from 5:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., are paid $120 for the day and – most importantly – help keep our democracy running.

Anyone interested in working the polls in Montgomery County can email MCBOE@montgomery.boe.ohio.gov.

Greene County residents can sign up to be a poll worker by calling (937) 562-6170.

Miami County officials say they have had a couple dozen cancellations and are actively recruiting to keep the polls covered. Anyone interested in working Election Day in Miami County can call (937) 440-3900.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton released a video Friday explaining that it’s safe to be a poll worker. Acton said that a polling location is different from a crowded sports arena or gathering banned by state order.

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“The fact that in a polling station you can walk around, you can go to a restroom, wash your hands, those things will definitely help you stay safe,” Acton said.

Local boards of election are distributing wipes for machines and hand-sanitizer for poll workers and voters to all locations. They are hoping they have enough to last through the day as hand-sanitizer especially is impossible to acquire.

“It’s possible every single voter that comes in will use hand-sanitizer so we want to have more than we think we need,” said Miami County Board of Elections Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway.

If people take proper precautions, there should be little reason to worry about coming out to vote, said Greene County Board of Elections Director Llyn McCoy.

“Wash your hands. Come vote. Wash your hands,” she said.

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