Poll workers warn of Election Day problems if staffing isn’t addressed before November

Washington

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — There are now less than two months to go until Election Day, and poll workers are already warning of shortages when it comes to staffing at precincts.

“We had barely enough staff to cover this,” Ryan Cragun, a poll worker in Tampa, said.

After struggling through the primary election, Cragun is worried his Florida polling location won’t have enough staff to cope with the larger crowds on Election Day.

“We need a break, right? I mean, it’s a 14-hour-day. I gotta eat, I should be able to get 20 minutes to eat lunch,” Cragun said.

Staffing polling places is always a challenge but the ongoing pandemic means many of the elderly volunteers say they plan to stay at home.

“In Alabama, we’re not concerned about having enough poll workers,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday.

Alabama is turning to young students for help. Merrill said the state is allowing up to two high school students to work as unpaid student interns at each polling place.

“We could have approximately 4,000 [more] students available than you currently have today,” Merrill added.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers want to reinforce poll workers by loosening restrictions.

Sen. Ron Wyden recently introduced a bill that would remove requirements that poll workers be registered to vote in the same county where they are volunteering.

“This just gives local governments and states more flexibility,” Wyden (D-OR) said Tuesday.

The workers would still need to be registered in the same state.

“I am certainly prepared to pull out all the stops to make this happen,” Wyden added.

Cragun hopes more workers are added before November to avoid shortages that could close polling locations.

“There could very well be problems,” he said. “I could see that given what I experienced this last time.”

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