Gwinnett receives $4.2M in grants for election security, coronavirus safety

08/11/2020 - Norcross, Georgia - Gwinnett County assistant Poll manager Bob Portnoy hands a voter her registration card during Georgia primary run-off elections at Norcross High School in Norcross, Tuesday, August 11, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
08/11/2020 - Norcross, Georgia - Gwinnett County assistant Poll manager Bob Portnoy hands a voter her registration card during Georgia primary run-off elections at Norcross High School in Norcross, Tuesday, August 11, 2020. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Credit: ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM

Gwinnett County commissioners accepted more than $4.2 million in elections grants Tuesday, the bulk of the money intended to be used for election security.

The funds will help the county provide physical and technological support for its elections systems, as well as buy protective equipment like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for poll workers.

The largest of the four grants approved was for $4.1 million, given by the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonpartisan non-profit group dedicated to providing information to voters and helping governments use modern technology for election administration. The group has received $250 million in funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

The grant is intended to be used for elections security and also allows the county to use some of the funds to cover costs from the June primary, county spokesman Joe Sorenson said.

“We are currently evaluating where the funds will be sourced to,” Sorenson said.

Two grants came from federal funds via the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. One for $15,000 was funded through the Help America Vote Act and is intended to help provide physical security for the county’s voting equipment. Another, worth $6,000, was funded through the CARES Act and will be used for the county’s ballot drop boxes and coronavirus protection for poll workers. A $100,000 grant from the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy will also fund protective equipment purchases, as well as hazard pay for poll workers.

Poll workers are paid a stipend that varies depending on their duties. Every poll worker will get paid 15% more than usual, Sorenson said.

Poll workers are required to wear masks for both early voting and Election Day, and the county is providing plastic gloves for poll workers and hand sanitizer for both poll workers and voters to use.

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