Preparing for an election during a global pandemic has caused state and local leaders to reassess how voters can safely cast their ballots Nov. 3.

Mary Dyer, Democratic commissioner for the Clinton County Board of Elections, said that, like most places in the country, the bulk of poll workers are retired and at risk for COVID-19. That’s caused many of them to back out of this year’s election

“Due to COVID, we did lose quite a few, probably a third, a good third of our poll workers,” she said. “The majority were older. Some were not older. Whether they had relatives they were caring for or young children, they just did not want to put themselves in that situation.”

That forced Clinton County to consolidate its polling locations — 11 sites are not being used. She says to compensate the shortage, poll workers from sites that closed are willing to work at another site.

In Vermont, Secretary of State Jim Condos says all 275 polling locations in the state will be open. He says there was some initial fear and concern from town clerks around in-person voting, including whether they would be able to staffing the polls. But, he says, that’s no longer the case..

“We are not seeing a problem in poll worker recruitment,” he said. “As the summer progressed, and we started social distancing and wearing masks, that seemed to dissipate.”

Condos says infection prevention kits with sanitation materials have will be available at all polling locations. A similar measure is being taken in Clinton County.

“Each site will have more than enough poll workers, and we will have cleaners to go around and make sure everything is sanitized and safe because we want everyone to be able to vote and feel comfortable doing it,” Dyer said.

More Headlines