Kentucky calls on young people to help with poll worker shortage in November

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Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2020 at 8:15 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky's Secretary of State is calling on young people to volunteer as poll workers during the November general election to help increase polling locations.

Secretary of State Michael Adams told WAVE 3 News the state is facing a shortage of poll workers because many of those who volunteer are considered “high-risk” if they contract the coronavirus.

“For the primary, it wasn’t policy idea for the governor and me to eliminate polling locations,” Adams said. “That’s something we adjusted to, not something we planned, and the reason is our poll workers canceled on us. The generation that does the polls typically is elderly, and those are the last people we expect to come out during COVID-19 and volunteer to sit with the public for 12-hours plus.”

Adams said he expects a huge voter turnout in November, so huge that if too many people mail in their ballots, he said it could overwhelm county clerks. That’s why he’s calling on young people to volunteer so the state can expand polling locations and in-person voting in November.

“A lot of people fuss at me and say, ‘Open up all the precincts,’ and I say, ‘Well, are you volunteering to work at the polls?’” Adams said. “I can’t provide this service without people.”

The Jefferson County Elections Center typically has 2,400 poll workers spread out at different precincts every election. During the primary election in June, there were 160 for seven days in one location.

Nore Ghibaudy, Director of the Jefferson County Elections Center, said the board is waiting to see how the state will conduct elections in November before staffing volunteers.

“We do not know if we’ll be back in all of the neighborhoods or some of the neighborhoods,” Ghibaudy said. “We do not know how long or if the portal from the state will be open, or if that will take place the entire time, so right now we’re kind of at a standstill.”

Adams said he expects there to be expanded, in-person, early voting and some absentee voting, but not everyone will qualify. A final decision is expected in about two weeks.

To apply to become a poll worker, call your local county clerk's office:

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