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Jackson County Short On Poll Workers For Upcoming Elections

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Jackson County's supervisor of elections Sylvia Stephens is concerned COVID-19 could deter some of the poll workers that officials usually count on for election day. She says the county needs about 30 more workers for August and November.

Stephens explains that Jackson County is buying personal protective equipment for poll workers and voters. That includes face shields, sneeze guards, masks, and hand sanitizer for election day and early voting.

Her office will be sending letters to volunteers to see if they will work the polls. Stephens is hoping they will call back soon so she can plan how to fill positions if someone doesn't want to show up.

"In case certain people don't want to work or [are] scared to go to work this time or something comes up, we do need applications filled out so that we can pull possible positions from those applications," Stephens says.

Stephens explains that she needs about 100 to 110 poll workers for the election in November. She says the average age of a Jackson County poll worker is anywhere from 50 to 70 years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are 65 and older are at a greater risk for negative impacts from the coronavirus.

Stephens says having a mega-voting site can help offset some of the challenges brought on by COVID-19. She's asking the state to allow mega-voting sites for this year's elections. These sites enable voters from anywhere in the county to come in and vote.

"We could cut down on some of our poll workers in case we don't have enough to work and enough to choose from, so we're asking for that ability," Stephens says.

Jackson County was approved to have mega-voting sites in 2018 after Hurricane Michael destroyed the county's polling sites.