Boone County struggles to find poll workers before November midterms
COLUMBIA - November elections are approaching, but behind campaign speeches and electoral yard signs, Boone County is struggling to reach its necessary number of poll workers.
County Clerk Taylor Burks said the most feedback the county received from August election voters was the excess of long lines and high turnout. To combat this, 20 new polling places will be added for the upcoming elections. But with these new places, an increase in poll workers needs to be met.
"When we don't have those poll workers, we have to consolidate polling places. So [more workers] helps us to avoid long lines, but also helps us to make elections more accessible for the voters of Boone County,” Burks said.
The county needs approximately 150 more workers. To become one, a cumulative four-hour training spread over three sessions, scheduled at the workers' availability, is required. The position is not volunteer, and is paid at nearly 10 dollars an hour during training and setup, and $175 for the full election day.
As Boone County is trying to gather more workers before Nov. 6, a poll worker of over 30 years is concerned about what will happen if there is not enough help.
"It's going to be a very, very busy day, and tough," Gina Newby said. "With less poll workers than we need, more people would do too many jobs. Then we get overworked and stressed, and there will be longer lines. I just hope the voters will be patient if this is the case."
Burks says that the lack of workers comes from a decrease in interest during midterm elections, in contrast to presidential elections. However, other counties such as Cole and Callaway say they have not yet faced problems regarding poll worker numbers.
Details on qualifying for training can be found on the Secretary of State's website. (https://www.sos.mo.gov/pollworker/qualify)