BANGOR — There’s been reports of a national shortage of poll workers and that may be the case in Maine as well.
Because of COVID-19, many election day volunteers have chosen to take this cycle off.
“Poll workers come from the demographics of people who are retired and are precisely the folks you don t want at the polling place,” said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. “As we talked about it in the spring, this became an emerging issue.”
Several town clerks in the area shared their thoughts on the issue.
Most said they’ve lost a handful of regular volunteers, but community members have stepped up to help.
“I think there’s about 45 additional workers that have signed up and we have a few more trickling in and we actually could use a few more because we work in shifts,” said Bangor City Clerk, Lisa Goodwin.
Goodwin encouraged people to take advantage of the in-person absentee voting taking place at the Cross Insurance Center next month.
That means they’ll need volunteers before election day arrives.
“We do anticipate having fewer people at the polls on election day, however we still anticipate having thousands of people there so there will still be lines,” said Goodwin.
Voters are also being urged to register in advance to minimize their time at voting locations.
“Something curious happens with those who work at the polls. They really like it,” said Dunlap. “They really feel like they’re giving back to their democracy. That’s where you get those poll workers to start who have done it for 30 or 40 years”
You can find out how to volunteer at the polls through your city or town’s website.