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By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service, Elections
More than 10,000 poll workers have been recruited to help staff local precincts in Georgia ahead of an expected surge of voters in the Nov. 3 general election, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office announced this week.
The 10,000 new poll workers account for about half of the 20,000-worker recruitment goal the state has set in recent months to bolster polling places, Raffensperger’s office said Thursday. The new recruits span the state but especially represent population centers like the Atlanta and Savannah metro areas.
More than 50 groups have partnered with Raffensperger’s office to recruit workers including local Rotary clubs, county chapters of the NAACP, some state agencies, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Savannah Regional Film Commission and the nonprofit TeenPact.
Raffensperger’s office said it has not surveyed counties to get a total of how many poll workers may be needed overall for the election. His office also said it does not have a list of how many poll workers have been hired statewide overall since it is the counties that hire the workers and they have not submitted lists of local staffing numbers to the state.
Raffensperger’s office has sent spreadsheets to county election officials so they can track inventory and training needs to smooth over any future hiccups more quickly than has happened in a few recent elections in which Georgia’s new voting machines have been used.
Safety concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prompted many poll workers to abstain from the state’s June 9 primary election, which saw long lines and technical know-how issues with the new voting equipment in some polling places, particularly Fulton County.
Raffensperger and local election officials have put a premium on recruiting more poll workers to curb chances for similar problems in the upcoming general election, in which voter turnout could top 5 million Georgia registered voters.
“After we saw how the pandemic-related shortage of poll workers contributed to long lines in June, we set out to mobilize an all-hands-on-deck effort to make sure county elections officials had the staff they need in November,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “Thanks to the great work of our partners and the dedication of Georgia voters, elections in Georgia will move more smoothly and efficiently in the future.”
State and local election officials are also anticipating a flood of absentee ballots from voters who opt to stay home on Election Day due to coronavirus concerns. Raffensperger’s office has launched an online portal to request absentee-ballot applications.