As more early voting sites open across the United States, election officials have faced a significant challenge: Staffing those sites with poll workers. And amid the coronavirus pandemic, the stakes are higher than ever.

“The simple answer is, if you don’t have enough poll workers, you can’t open polling locations,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told CNN.

During the 2016 election, nearly 1 million poll workers staffed voting locations across the country, according to the US Election Assistance Commission. And even before the pandemic, 65% of jurisdictions reported it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to attract enough poll workers. They also found more populous jurisdictions had a harder time recruiting.

Now, the public health threat from the pandemic combined with projected record turnout and CDC guidance to keep as many polling places open as possible has created a perfect storm — and headache — for election officials.

But with recruitment deadlines approaching, election officials are reporting that many people have answered the call. Across the country, they have reported a surge in poll worker sign-ups, assuaging some of the concerns building over the summer amid the pandemic.

On Friday, Power the Polls reported 500,000 sign-ups since the group began recruiting in June — all people who want to serve as poll workers. The nonpartisan newly formed group’s website helps users navigate at times complicated state and local election websites to connect them with election officials.

“We’re going to keep charging right up until the election officials tell us they won’t be taking any more people,” Power the Polls’ co-director Scott Duncombe told CNN.

Source : CNN

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