Older poll workers sitting out this election because of COVID-19 fears

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Older poll workers sitting out this election because of COVID-19 fears

In Catawba County, 48 poll workers said they will sit out of the 2020 elections.

Bea Sherrill, who is in her 70s, said she has worked at the polls for more than a decade, but will not be there per her doctor’s orders.

“His instructions were, I would have to wear a mask, then the Plexi-mask, a smock that I wash every night in Clorox and gloves,” Sherrill said. “And then he wasn’t happy even with that.”

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The impact is being felt across the Carolinas where the average age of poll workers is 70-years old. Catawba County has lost dozens of its workforce and needs more workers this year because of the virus.

“After a voter votes at the polling booth, it must be cleaned before another voter comes in,” Sherrill said. “We’re gonna need a greeter where they can control the social distance line.”

Someone will also be needed for curbside voting.

The Catawba Board of Elections said it has 100 openings for poll workers during the fall elections.

Early voting is also a concern.

“Most of it was because of the epidemic,” said Amanda Duncan, with the Board of Elections. “Their fear was bringing the epidemic home to their loved ones or getting it themselves.”

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Board of Elections officials said people who volunteer in Catawba County get paid.

They would like to see more younger people sign up to volunteer to help.