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May 21, 2020 - 10:44am

Election commissioners issue a call for citizens to apply for poll worker positions as June 23rd election nears

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, genesee county board of elections, COVID-19.

With colleges and high schools cut short due to the current public health crisis, it seems reasonable to believe that a large number of young adults may be looking for gainful employment.

Genesee County Board of Election Commissioners Lorie Longhany and Richard Siebert have issued a call for citizens – 18 years of age and up – to serve their communities and earn some spending money at the same time by applying for poll worker positions for the June 23rd Primary and Special Election.

“Dick and I have found that we’re going to have a need for more poll workers … we are down, right now, 42 poll workers out of approximately 200,” Longhany said at Wednesday afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Ways & Means Committee meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Longhany said workers are needed for eight-hour shifts during the week and for five-hour shifts on the weekend during early voting, and then for a 15- to 16-hour stint on Election Day.

Pay for the Election Day work is set at $215 and other pay rates vary depending upon shift length and duties.

She also said those who apply will be paid $35 for two hours of training, and would be eligible to stay on to work during the November election.

“We’ve had some luck getting some young people to step forward, but not in the numbers that we are going to need. And that’s our dilemma,” Longhany said. “We have an election … on the 23rd and we need staff to put it on.”

Longhany said that the COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting the election office’s operation.

“We are seeing that poll workers just aren’t comfortable going out and sitting during the climate that we’re in with COVID-19,” she said.

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg said that was understandable.

“A lot of our poll workers are older citizens and considered vulnerable, and we appreciate the service they have given us all these years, but we totally understand their perspective now,” she said.

Longhany said the plan is to “facilitate the movement of the voters to get to the table to sign in by keeping the six-foot social distancing – passing out the little bottle of sanitizer that our emergency management team is so wonderfully providing for us, and just kind of keep a semblance of order during a time that’s different,” she explained. “We want our poll workers to be safe and we want our voters to be safe.”

The election commissioners asked legislators to allow them to hire more poll workers to keep things running smoothly and ensure that required safety measures are followed, adding that they are reaching out to school teachers, social workers at schools and others to get the word out.

Siebert noted that election expenses are the responsibility of the municipalities that are being served by the county election office.

“We were directed many years ago that all expenses to the towns that we run the election – these poll workers – no matter what our expenses – are charged back, which comes back two years later,” he said. “So, if we have to hire another $4,000 or $5,000 for what the cost would be … that would be a charge back to the City of Batavia and all the 13 towns.”

People interested in applying to be a poll worker or who want more information are asked to call the election office at (585) 815-7804.

Longhany said that 5,339 absentee ballots have been processed thus far, more than twice the normal amount processed during presidential election years.

Polls will be open for early voting at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road in Batavia from: noon to 5 p.m. on June 13-14; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 15; noon to 8 p.m. on June 16-17;9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 18-19; and noon to 5 p.m. on June 20-21.

On June 23, Election Day voting will take place at 23 different polling sites from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the county.

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