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More people signing up to be poll workers, cities still recruiting

Election 2020
Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 19:25:04-04

Poll workers are one of the most critical pieces of pulling off an election.

Several Wisconsin communities saw a shortage in April, May, and August due to the pandemic and the significant number of poll workers who are in their 60s and older, but as we inch closer to November several communities say they have seen a jump in interest.

"Since Aug. 11, we have received over 2,000 applications of new poll workers that is amazing," said Jonatan Zuniga, Deputy Director at the City of Milwaukee Election Commission.

Thanks to community partners, Zuniga feels confident that between new and returning poll workers the city will have the 2,400 poll workers it needs on Election Day.

But recruiting continues to help fill any gaps that may arise. Zuniga wants to ensure they have plenty of people to cover every aspect of the polls.

"We want to prepare, making sure people are staying 6 feet apart, we have people dedicated to disinfecting areas commonly used by voters, making sure that again a greeter at the entrance, making sure they have enough people to go outside and do curbside voting," said Zuniga.

Out of about a dozen local cities that TMJ4 News contacted, Cudahy expressed the most concern about not having enough trained poll workers by Election Day.
Franklin, like many communities, has seen an uptick in interest in working the polls.

"This election we have everything from students to people who are willing to take off from their jobs to a lot of the regular pool workers that we’ve used in the past," said Sandi Wesolowski, Franklin's City Clerk.

Wesolowski added they may refer some people to other municipalities in need.

"I know what it’s like if you are a municipal clerk and you’re short workers, or you’re at the point where you fear maybe you can’t open all of your polling locations. So it’s to help the voters and it’s also to help the other municipalities," said Wesolowski.

The influx of people signing up to work the election will be crucial in tackling the mounting number of absentee ballots.

Former school superintendent Gerald Freitag has worked elections before. He plans to be back out there on Nov. 3.

"I think it’s important for all of us who believe in our democracy to be willing to put time into something like this," said Gerald.

Zuniga pointed out the pandemic is also impacting how they train election workers.

"With COVID-19 the challenges with training 1,500+ new election inspectors. We have to do it virtually for the most part so getting everyone registered, getting everyone who may not be very familiar very experienced with technology," Zuniga explained.

He went on to say the city will provide election workers N95 face masks, face shields, and gloves in addition to other safety measures at the polling site.

If you're interested in applying to be a poll worker click here for more information.

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