MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin election clerks need more than 900 additional workers for the Aug. 11 statewide primary, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said Tuesday.
The commission put out a call for more volunteers to step forward to work the polls in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The shortage of poll workers is driven by older people with underlying health conditions not being willing to volunteer, said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official.
“We know there are Wisconsinites looking for ways to serve their communities through this difficult time,” Wolfe said “If you are a state, county or municipal employee, a teacher, a student or someone who is looking for temporary work, municipal clerks need you to step up and help right now.”
Local clerks identified a shortage of 938 poll workers in 153 communities across the state. Some of the largest shortages were in Green Bay (50), Pewaukee (57) and Appleton (60). The state’s two largest cities, Madison and Milwaukee, did not say they needed any additional help staffing the polls.
The Wisconsin National Guard helped staff polls during Wisconsin’s April 7 election, but Gov. Tony Evers has not activated them for next week’s election. Wolfe said the commission was working with Guard leadership on a request for Guard members to serve as poll workers where critical shortages have been identified. However, Wolfe said there was no guarantee the Guard could fulfill all of the needs.
The Guard remains activated to assist with testing and other needs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, the National Guard distributed sanitary supplies, personal protective equipment, to all 72 of Wisconsin’s county clerks. Enough surface disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and masks for poll workers have already been distributed to each polling place for both next week’s election and the November presidential election, the Elections Commission said.
Next week’s election includes a host of primaries in races for Congress and the state Legislature.