Several poll workers quit before primary election Tuesday

1 month 3 weeks 2 days ago Monday, August 03 2020 Aug 3, 2020 Monday, August 03, 2020 8:12:00 PM CDT August 03, 2020 in News
By: Annabel Thorpe, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY — From masks to hand sanitizer stations to new poll workers, the primary election Tuesday will look different to voters. 

In Cole County, several regular poll workers didn’t volunteer again due to concerns about COVID-19.

“We had about 20 people we had to replace between retirement and the COVID—didn’t want to work,” Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer said. "So, we used our alternate list and pulled from there. So, I think we have 145 judges total. We should be covered. We should be fine.”

Korsmeyer said even the alternate list "is depleted" now.

However, these concerns are not stopping election judge Penny Quigg. Quigg has been an election judge for 49 years.

“It’s a job that has to be done,” Quigg said. “I feel like I’m going to take proper precautions. And I worked in June, and I had no ill effects, so I feel confident.”

She’s looks forward to running her polling station at Our Savior's Lutheran Church Tuesday morning.

“I’ve got my clothes laid out,” Quigg said. “We’re going to come over and work here tonight—get the polling place ready. Then I’m going to go to bed at 8, so I can get up at 3:30 to be here at 5.”

Experienced poll workers, like Quigg, have been paired with new workers. There are typically six poll workers per precinct.

“Because we are kind of shorthanded, the clerk has tried to put experienced workers—pair them up with the less experienced, so that everyone can successfully complete the job,” Quigg said.

The polls could also look a little quieter Tuesday, too.

The Cole County Clerk said 1,200 people voted absentee in 2016. With the COVID-19 absentee excuse available this year, he says between 1,500 to 1,600 people have already voted absentee in 2020.

The deadline to vote absentee was 5 p.m. Monday.

There will also be hand sanitizer stations set up in precincts. Poll workers will also wipe down equipment and tables throughout the day. Both voters and poll workers are encouraged to wear masks or face shields.

“They all have the choice—if they want to wear a mask or gloves or face shields,” Korsmeyer said. "I ask everybody just to use common sense.”

The clerk said voters can bring their own pens, so the only thing people will need to touch is the ballot and the poll pad voters sign with their fingertips.

Quigg said she will wear a face shield Tuesday. She said her precinct will scan photo IDs to limit hand-offs.

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