ELECTIONS STAFFING

The Issue: Elections office confident about staffing — for now.

Our View: Pandemic causes concern.

Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill said she should have enough poll workers for the primary — especially given the traditionally low turnout for such elections. But if the COVID-19 resurgence continues, Gill is concerned about having sufficient poll workers for the November general election.

Given the uncertainty, Gill’s goal is to have at least a pool of 75 to 100 alternate poll workers in case they need to take the place of those already signed up who may drop out due to COVID-19 concerns.

Every election is a critical event in the life of a representative democracy, especially a general election in a presidential year. We have confidence in Gill to estimate the staffing shortfall, plan accordingly and provide a safe working environment.

The current poll worker group is also pretty vocal in saying that Gill has gone far beyond the minimum to make things safe for her staff and the voters.

If the Supervisor of Elections office could actually estimate how many might go to the polls this year, it might help with staffing plans We have 10 days of all-day early voting, plus 31 election-day precincts, and how do you figure out how many will show up at which voting sites? One has to staff for worst-case scenario.

Gill is outstanding and if she is unable to secure enough poll workers (which we don’t foresee), she will alert the public in full force about how to volunteer and the available options to vote to stay healthy.

Nonetheless, if COVID is still surging, fear could have a significant impact.

An informational campaign stressing the importance of the election, our civic duty, and the safety precautions taken to protect poll workers. Also, if more funding is required by the Supervisor of Elections to fund the added efforts aimed at recruiting and retaining poll workers, the BOCC needs to pony up.

However, voters could certainly do their part by participating in early voting or vote-by-mail so we don’t have a disaster on Election Day. Gill has been pretty vocal in encouraging vote by mail. Voting by mail works, and there should not be the lack of concern about it.

Remember, last time more than 50% voted by mail and another 18% voted early.

We need to make that happen again to make the process go easily.