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Poll workers volunteering in good numbers despite COVID-19 fears

Burnet County sees strong poll worker numbers

Burnet County is gearing up for the Nov. 3 general election, and one thing going the county’s way is poll worker signups. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

COVID-19 isn’t scaring away election poll workers in Burnet County, thanks in part to the recruiting efforts of the local Democratic and Republican parties.

Burnet County election officials reported that people are volunteering in sufficient numbers in preparation for the Nov. 3 general election.

“We have gotten a lot of new people step up,” said Burnet County Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson. “As of right now, our early voting schedule is full, and right now, we have a healthy list of backup workers that want to work. Election Day polls are pretty close to being completed as well.”

That doesn’t mean it’s too late to volunteer. On the contrary, party leaders and the elections office are still on the hunt for poll workers to fill out backup worker lists.

“Now, this is September still, and all of this is bound to change,” Ferguson said. “These are regular human beings that could run into getting sick or family emergencies and things like that. So, it’s a list that changes up until Election Day. 

Ferguson said county party chairs drive most of the recruitment efforts for poll workers. 

Marti Pogue, former Burnet County Democratic Party chair, said she began recruiting past poll workers, who make up about half of the volunteers this year. Then, she started calling county Democrats to fill as many positions as she could. Some new volunteers even came to her first.

“Because of the importance of this election, I’ve had people even call me and say, ‘I want to be a poll worker,'” she said. “So, we have some new ones that we’ve added to the list.”

Burnet County Republican Party Chair Kara Chasteen also said recruitment is up this year despite COVID-19 fears.

“We’ve had a very successful recruitment year where we’ve had tons of new volunteers, and we’re totally excited about that,” Chasteen said. “We don’t turn down new ones.”

While polling places are being staffed, more recruits are always welcome to help relieve poll workers on long shifts for days at a time, she said.

“There are some that have been doing this for years that are relieved that we have new people, and maybe they don’t have to work three days of early voting or they don’t have to work all day one day,” Chasteen said. “The more people we have volunteer, the easier it works and the easier it is for everyone.”

Prospective poll workers must undergo training classes and an application process. Those interested should reach out to the Burnet County Republican Party, the Burnet County Democratic Party, or Burnet County’s elections office

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Early voting is Oct. 13-30. 

For more on the upcoming election, visit the How to Vote Guide.