Poll workers check in voters at Burlington’s United Methodist Church during the November 2018 election. The City of Burlington has put out a plea for more poll workers as many of the longtime election staffers have stepped away due to concerns over coronavirus. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Coronavirus prompts many to step away while absentee ballots surge

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

City of Burlington officials are calling for help from residents willing to serve as poll workers for the Aug. 11 and Nov. 3 elections to replace workers unable to perform the duties because of age or health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you are someone who is looking for temporary work or would like to volunteer, we need your help,” City Clerk Diahnn Halbach said.

Halbach said the city typically looks to have 9 to 11 poll workers per shift, per polling location, during the August election.

In November, officials seek at least 15 workers per shift, per location.

Cross Lutheran Church, 126 Chapel Terrace, serves as the city’s other polling place.

Halbach said this election cycle has brought increased demand for poll workers because of unprecedented absentee ballot requests.

“Due to the increase in absentee voting, there is a need for additional people to help process absentee ballots on Election Day,” she said. “To date, we have mailed out 1,220 absentee ballots.”

Safety recommendations related to COVID-19 have compounded the need for more workers, she said.

“We also need extra bodies to ensure that the safety protocols are being adhered to such as, making sure hands are sanitized, handing out pens, and cleaning throughout the day.”

Application process

Poll workers can elect to receive compensation, Halbach said, noting people will receive a rate of $9 per hour.

The opportunity is not limited to city residents, however, since state law allows people to serve as election inspectors in other municipalities within their county of residence.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission as well as state Department of Health Services will continue offering guidance for local election officials to proceed with a safe and secure election.

“Anybody interested in being a poll worker should contact me directly. There is a questionnaire to fill out and they will need to meet with payroll as well, if they choose to be compensated,” Halbach said. “Poll workers may also choose to volunteer their services by filing a written declination of compensation with the municipal clerk.”

Residents can come forward by calling City Hall at 262-342-1161.

To read the entire story, including information about the city’s new polling place, pick up a copy of the July 23 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.