MADISON – Wisconsin clerks are at least 900 poll workers short statewide for the Aug. 11 fall partisan primary, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
“We know there are Wisconsinites looking for ways to serve their communities through this difficult time,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official, in a news release. “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.”
Wolfe said the WEC is working closely with Wisconsin National Guard leadership on a request for soldiers and airmen to serve as poll workers in municipalities where critical shortages have been identified. The Governor’s office has not yet officially activated the National Guard to serve as poll workers.
“We know and appreciate that the National Guard is working on our request, but there is no guarantee they will be able to provide all or even some the personnel clerks need,” Wolfe said. “We understand the Guard is needed for other critical missions as our state deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Wisconsin municipal clerks typically need between 25,000 and 30,000 poll workers to serve at polling places for an August primary. Because significant numbers of existing poll workers are in their 60s, 70s and 80s and have health conditions, clerks are experiencing shortages, Wolfe said.
The WEC has been surveying municipal clerks for the past month about their poll worker needs. Currently, clerks have identified serious or critical shortages of 938 poll workers in 153 municipalities.
Wolfe said the WEC staff has been working with clerks to refine and justify their requests for National Guard personnel.
Last week, the National Guard assisted the Elections Commission by distributing sanitary supplies, personal protective equipment and other polling place supplies to all 72 Wisconsin County Clerks, who are distributing them to the 1,850 municipal clerks. Enough surface disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and masks for poll workers have already been distributed to each polling place for both the August Partisan Primary and the November General Election.
How to serve as a poll worker
In Wisconsin, election inspectors are appointed at the municipal level. Anyone who is interested in working should contact their municipal clerk’s office or visit the MyVote Wisconsin website: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/PollWorker.
Wisconsin law allows people to serve as election inspectors in other municipalities within their county. If you are willing to serve in a municipality outside of your own, let your clerk know and they can alert the county about your availability. You can also contact the county directly and can find contact information for county clerks here: https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory.
Municipal clerks will provide training for any new election inspectors before the election. Poll workers will also be supplied with personal protective equipment.