DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday Ohio is facing a poll worker shortage because COVID-19 is leaving elderly workers less willing to volunteer.
Montgomery County needs 1,500 poll workers for every major election. As of right now, they have less than half of the poll workers they need for the general election.
“Poll workers will play a vital role in traditional voting on election day,” Montgomery County Board of Elections deputy director Steve Harsman said.
Long-time poll worker Matt Gemperline said he plans on being at the polls again November 3.
“I think it’s a really important thing to be able to do that because it’s one of the best things we can do in our country, to vote,” Gemperline said.
Harsman said COVID-19 has affected their pool of poll workers because many are elderly, putting them at higher risk of COVID-19.
His office is now trying to recruit younger people by reaching out to nonprofits, attorneys and even Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
“We’re trying to do anything and everything and we’re trying to encourage anybody that wants to participate to call us and we’ll put them to work,” Harsman said.
“Freeing up some of the folks who are traditionally a lot older and a little more at-risk for the virus, it’s better for me to be out there than for them to be out there,” Gemperline said.
All Montgomery County poll workers will be provided PPE, disinfectant and hand sanitizer.
Those protections in place made long-time poll worker Kaylin Morales more willing to return in November.
“I had a little bit of concern about how they would do it, to make sure it was safe for everybody, but they assured us of all the different things they were planning to do to make it safe,” Morales said.
Miami County election officials say a survey they sent to their regular poll workers, those who responded indicated 20 to 25 percent will not be available for November’s election, citing either COVID-19 or other reasons.
In Clark County, of those who responded to their survey, 55 percent of returning poll workers plan to volunteer again, and 15 percent said they will not be working in November.