ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — In honor of National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, local election officials are hoping to have hundreds of volunteers sign up before November. The Winnebago County Clerk tells us that COVID-19 has added an additional strain in recruiting poll workers.

“We need at least 500 poll workers on that one day, just to make sure that we adequately staff all the polling locations,” explained Lori Gummow.

Winnebago County Clerk Lori Gummow is asking people to volunteer this Election day as COVID-19 makes finding poll workers more difficult.

“Every year, some poll workers change jobs, or they move out of town, so there’s generally always a need for recruiting new ones. But it’s been especially challenging this year,” Gummow said.

The pandemic has some long-time volunteers rethinking their decision to help.

“The average age of a poll worker is 61 years or older. So we know right there in that demographic they are at risk. So we’re looking for people who are healthy and willing to help out on Election Day,” she added.

Polling locations like the Cherry Valley Public Library are taking steps to make sure volunteers and voters stay healthy on November 3rd. The library will have sanitizing stations set up right when you walk in. Tape on the floor also marks six feet for social distancing.

“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure the safety of not only voters but also the people spending the time on that day to work and make this a possibility. It’s a great civic duty, it’s part of being an American, and so everybody taking into consideration what’s going on and still doing their part, keeping everybody safe,” explained Kylee Bear, the communications manager for Cherry Valley Public Library.

Scott Dabson from Alpine Lutheran Church, another polling location, says volunteers are essential to keeping people safe while voting.

“Back in March, they did a great job. When the polling people were out, they did a great job in setting up and making sure the stations were spaced out and people were using hand sanitizer,” Dabson said.

“It’s a very long day; I’ve done it. But at the end of the day, you feel very satisfied and gratified knowing that you were part of the democratic process,” Gummow added.

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