Gwinnett almost fully staffed for early voting, election day poll workers

05/18/2020 - Lawrenceville, Georgia  - Poll worker Rae Gilmer (left) wears a face mask and gloves as she assist a voter during early voting at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Office in Lawrenceville, Monday, May 18, 2020.  Early voting began May 18 and will last three-weeks, ended June 5. Georgia's Election Day is Tuesday, June 9.(ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
05/18/2020 - Lawrenceville, Georgia - Poll worker Rae Gilmer (left) wears a face mask and gloves as she assist a voter during early voting at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Office in Lawrenceville, Monday, May 18, 2020. Early voting began May 18 and will last three-weeks, ended June 5. Georgia's Election Day is Tuesday, June 9.(ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Gwinnett County’s elections office has almost reached its goal for Election Day poll worker staffing, Elections Director Kristi Royston said.

The county is 89% staffed for its 156 polling places across the county. Currently, 1,614 people are set to serve as poll workers on Nov. 3. The county goal is 1,818, so 204 more people would make the county fully staffed. All Election Day polling places can still be operated if the county is under its goal number.

Royston intends on recruiting as many people as possible, even if the goal is met. A surplus makes it easier to fill gaps when there are unexpected dropouts, she said.

The county is also well-staffed for its nine in-person early voting locations, which are open daily until Oct. 30. Besides a few “non-issuing clerks” — people who hand out stickers, direct lines and perform other tasks that don’t involve the voting machines — every role is filled, Royston said.

Attracting poll workers has been difficult for Gwinnett and other metro Atlanta counties since the spring due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic; many longtime poll workers are seniors, and people older than 65 are considered at high risk for complications from COVID-19.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office stepped in to help refer potential poll workers to counties, including Gwinnett, after the June primary. A lower than usual number of poll workers led to polling place consolidations in Fulton County and long lines across the metro area.

Gwinnett is taking steps to keep poll workers and voters safe from the virus, including requiring face masks for poll workers and providing them gloves and hand sanitizer. They’ll also be paid an extra 15% in hazard pay, funded by a $100,000 grant recently received by the county. Voters are encouraged to wear masks and will be offered sanitizer at polling places.

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