COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Around this time in a Primary Election, poll workers are generally needed, but this year the novel coronavirus is really causing a shortage.
Often the polls are run by older adults who can afford to spend the day making sure everyone gets a chance to vote. However, this year they are one of the groups most at risk of complications from COVID-19 and fatality rates are elevated for them.
As such, polling locations have been pulled out of nursing and assisted living facilities. Those facilities are now heavily restricted to visitors, in order to protect that vulnerable population.
You can find information regarding your polling location at the Secretary of State website.
Meanwhile, the county board of elections still need poll workers for Tuesday’s Primary Election.
The Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is asking for people to hear the call and step up to help by going on the Day of Democracy website for more information and to sign up.
“We chose that website name very intentionally because when you sign up to be a poll worker you are in fact helping us defend democracy,” said LaRose. “Please consider that a call to duty for patriotic Ohioans to help up perform this important function.”
County boards are still training poll workers and you will be paid for your time.
LaRose hopes young people will help and points out many college-age adults are likely to be available on Tuesday due to the closure of campuses and extension of spring break.
He also points out that 17-year-olds are old enough to work the polls.
LaRose also went out of his way to insist that the polling locations will be clean and safe on Tuesday. Noting they are NOT considered mass gatherings, the polls will be open to all voters.
“They’re going to spend just a few minutes walking into a very clean environment where the machines are wiped down and where hand-washing is observed and that kind of thing; they’ll be casting their ballot and they’ll be walking out,” said LaRose.
If you do not want to go to the polls you are almost out of time to request an absentee ballot in the mail. LaRose says you need to request one immediately to avoid hassle and stress waiting for your ballot to arrive.
If you do get a ballot in the mail, you must have it postmarked by election day; or you can drop it off in person at your County Board of Elections – NOT your polling location – on Election Day.
To avoid all of that, you could also just go vote early at your County Board of Elections headquarters Friday or this weekend.