Gov. Northam asks Virginians to consider applying to work the polls

Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 11:18 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Localities all across the Commonwealth could use some election workers as we head into voting season. The need is so strong, even Gov. Ralph Northam is making a plea to recruit. Those who normally man the polls are having second thoughts because they’re the ones most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“We need people,” said Teresa Smithson, Director of Elections for Hanover County. In normal times, her staff shows up every year to help man the polls. “These people have been working together on the same team for years and they become quite a little family.”

Not this time. That’s because the average age of a Hanover elections worker is 72.

“And they are in the high risk of COVID. Many of them have selected to set this election out because they just didn’t feel comfortable going to the polls that day,” Smithson said.

It’s not just happening in Hanover.

“We’re seeing a shortage of poll workers across our state,” Northam said Tuesday. Now he’s making a plea - consider signing up where you live. “We need to make up for that shortfall with people who aren’t considered as high risk to keep polling places open and operating smoothly. And you can help.”

Chesterfield County revealed it will add more money to what election workers make. Normally, the pay is around $150 to work Election Day, and now the county is adding $100 extra to that.

Election workers greet voters and give directions, assist those who can’t leave their car, check people in as they show up to receive a ballot, and help keep the polls sanitized, among other things.

“Of course you have the all-important number one job, which is the person who passes out the “I voted” stickers. That’s a very important job,” Smithson added.

Keep in mind the workday begins at 5 a.m.

“It’s a very long day. We call it volunteerism with a tip because you definitely don’t get paid what you’re worth for working that long day,” she continued.

Some of these positions will get to work before November. That’s because in-person, early voting will happen later this month. People will be needed then too.

You can find more details on how to apply, here.

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