Poll worker shortage across metro Atlanta day before primary election
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Hours ahead of Election Day, workers are still needed at some polls across metro Atlanta. The American Civil Liberties Union said several large counties could use more help, and are encouraging residents to volunteer Tuesday.
Christopher Bruce, the Policy and Advocacy Director for ACLU of Georgia said a record turnout for voters means more workers are needed.
“We need more people working the polls to make sure the process is as efficient as possible,” Bruce explained.
Bruce said the ACLU worked with DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton counties to fill positions this election cycle, but a recently renewed concern over COVID-19 is partially responsible for fewer workers.
“What we’re seeing is people who have signed up can no longer be a poll worker because they’re infected with Covid,” explained Bruce. “That’s a reality that happened in 2020 on June 9, which is one reason we had so many problems.”
ACLU of Georgia initially scheduled a poll worker training event the Monday before election day, but canceled the event due to COVID-19.
In Gwinnett County, Elections Supervisor Zach Manifold says the time of year plays a role in getting more people to volunteer at the polls.
“You have graduation, the last day of school, vacations. There’s a lot going on,” said Manifold. “It’s always hard to get people in May.”
Manifold said Gwinnett doesn’t anticipate major problems with staffing. However, they could fill supporting roles.
The county said it would let volunteers take an online training until Monday evening.
“All the way through tonight we’re still placing people,” said Manifeld. “We are trying to recruit back people who left the system after the pandemic.”
The pandemic also continues to impact DeKalb County elections.
DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections Executive Director Keisha Smith said in a statement to CBS46:
“While we have sufficient staffing levels for Election Day, we are still navigating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic that have impacted our ability to reach ideal staffing levels. We are adjusting staffing in real-time to ensure the best voter experience at all of our polling locations in DeKalb. We look forward to a tremendously exciting, safe, secure and efficient voter experience in DeKalb County.”
Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt said the county is down about 20 workers but does not expect this to impact election day operations.
Officials also say a possible run-off election and the general election will give people plenty of other opportunities to work the polls. The ACLU said it is almost always looking for more folks to help.
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