CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – With just a little more than three months until election night, state officials are hard at work securing volunteers to work the polls. However, this year there is a greater emphasis on younger volunteers.
As the coronavirus continues to plague much of the world, officials and state leaders from across the country are working to recruit younger volunteers to work the polls on election night. Many primary election sites, including some in West Virginia, faced set-backs or delays because of a lack of volunteers. Officials in Kanawha County were left scrambling to fill more than 100 vacant volunteer spots, the night before election day.
According to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, about 9,000 volunteers are needed to work the polls on election day. About two-thirds of poll workers in the United States are over age 61, putting them at higher risk of catching COVID-19.
“We have 1,708 precincts in the state, each one of those requires five workers, so you do the math and that’s almost 9,000 workers needed. That is a lot of volunteers,” Warner said.
“We know that this coronavirus has hit the demographic that is usually the one manning the polls. So we need more people, younger people, to step up and rise to the challenge,” he said.
Warner spent Wednesday morning, testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. He was invited to address the Committee on “General Election Preparations” with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. His testimony came one day after he released his “After Action Report.”
“Democracy, the foundation of our whole form of government is going to the polls and voting on election day and that is why we need those poll workers,” Warner said.
Those volunteers will be compensated for their training and for the actual work done on election day. The rate is based on the precinct in which you volunteer. If you are interested in learning more, visit the Secretary of State’s website.