INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — With less than a week until election day, metro counties desperately need people to work at polling locations. The coronavirus has scared off some of their regular volunteers.
“Welcome, voters!” election judge Linda Gussman said Thursday.
Friendly greetings like Gussman’s are running low as counties prepare for the primary election on Aug. 4.
Jackson and Cass county leaders have ordered extra pens, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray, but poll workers are in short supply.
“They’re essential,” said Tammy Brown, director of the Jackson County Election Board.
Brown said a number of election judges are canceling because of the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
They still need to fill 50-60 spots to feel comfortable come Tuesday.
“When you’re trying to service 250,000 registered voters all over eastern Jackson County, we have to have our poll workers to get our polls open and be able to be there for the voters come 6 a.m. Tuesday morning,” Brown said.
Cass County needs nine more people to sign up. The clerk encourages the younger generation to check off the box as an election judge.
“The age is up there for most of the polling workers, so obviously the coronavirus has been a big problem for this,” Cass County Clerk Jeff Fletcher said. “We could use, you know, the younger generation. If they could please come and be an election judge.”
While counties are down in poll workers, they’ve seen an increase in mail-in ballots and absentee voting.
“This year’s been a lot different,” Brown said.
Factoring in permanent disability, mail-in and absentee ballots, Brown said Jackson County has almost tripled the total number received last year.
Still, they’re expecting a large turnout at the county’s 90 locations Tuesday.
After working during election days the last 35 years, Gussman doesn’t plan on missing a question.
“I feel like it’s one small thing I can do, as corny as it sounds, for my city and my county and my country,” Gussman said.
Plus, the gig pays anywhere from $125 to $175.
You just need to apply and complete one day of training. All that information can be found on each county’s website.