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Allegheny County is in 'desperate' need of poll workers to run the upcoming primary

Voting booths are set up at one of Allegheny County's satellite voting locations in October 2020.
Lucy Perkins
90.5 WESA
Voting booths are set up at one of Allegheny County's satellite voting locations in October 2020.

Allegheny County election officials are getting ready for the May primary, and they’re in “desperate” need of poll workers.

“We really need people to turn out in the next three weeks to sign up to work the polls,” said Jessica Garofolo, the county’s director of Administrative Services. “[If] we don’t have poll workers, we can’t open the polls timely.”

It takes about 6,500 people to staff the county’s 1,323 polling places for in-person voters on Election Day. But the county still needs 2,000 more people to sign up. Poll workers are on site from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day and are paid $150 - $175.

There’s nearly always a poll worker shortage due to long hours and low pay, and the jobs are often filled by retirees or older adults. In 2020, there was a national push for more young people to sign up to work on Election Day since older adults can be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

“I think this is going to be a busy election,” Garofolo said. “If you know anyone who is going to be bored on May 17th or is striving to fill their civic duty, go to alleghenyvotes.com and sign up to be a poll worker. Please.”

The county says it will begin sending mail-in ballots to voters in the coming days. Garofolo said at a Board of Elections meeting Monday morning that people who requested mail ballots should receive them soon.

“We're doing a staggered mailing. So we're not going to send everything out all at once. So we'll do a few now, a few Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. So I'd like to think [voters will get them] by early next week.”

You can sign up to be a poll worker here.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.
As a public media organization, WESA provides free and accessible news service to the public.

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