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With Expected Shortage Of Senior Volunteers, County Will Pay Poll Workers

An early voting and registration sign is shown inside the San Diego Registrar of Voters' office, Feb. 18, 2020.
Tarryn Mento
An early voting and registration sign is shown inside the San Diego Registrar of Voters' office, Feb. 18, 2020.

For many, one of the joys of Election Day is walking to their neighborhood polling place and being greeted by a friendly senior citizen with an “I Voted” sticker.

But that tradition is one of a number of things that will be changing in this election, thanks to COVID-19.

With Expected Shortage Of Senior Volunteers, County Will Pay Poll Workers
Listen to this story by John Carroll.

For years now, the vast majority of voters in San Diego County have returned their ballots by mail. But a significant number still vote in person, and most of those folks are in for a different experience than in elections past, said Registrar of Voters Michael Vu.

On one hand, there will be fewer small neighborhood polling places, Vu said in a weekend interview with KPBS. In their place will be 235-satellite locations open from Oct. 31 through election day, Nov. 3.

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“With more voters out there, with more poll workers going to be located there, with more voting booths to ensure that there’s a level of social distancing and the fact that these locations are going to be open for four times as long,” Vu said.

Also, a lot of the people that typically staff polling locations are staying away now because they tend to be older and more vulnerable to the virus. So, in order to attract younger folks who normally wouldn’t volunteer, they will be paid positions this year.

Vu said they’re on track to be staffed up, but to get there, they still need hundreds of poll workers.

“I am confident of where we are at this point in time, but there is still a lot that we are monitoring to ensure that we have a well-run election,” he said.

For more information, check the Registrar’s website