Will There Be Enough Election Volunteers in WI?
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
GREENVILLE, Wis. -- Just like 2016, Wisconsin is seen as a battleground state for the election, with a constant flow of court challenges possibly affecting the outcome. But another emerging factor, amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, is whether there will be enough volunteers.
Municipal clerks rely on volunteers to help at polling locations and process absentee ballots. Voting absentee is expected to be widely used because of the worsening pandemic in the Badger State.
Wendy Helgeson, president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, said as older workers decline to participate because of health risks, others are stepping up because of the magnitude of the situation. But she said needs could still change.
"Even during non-pandemic times, people get sick, or something comes up and they can't come on Election Day," Helgeson said. "So, we want to make sure that we have plenty of volunteers because we don't know what's going to happen."
And with COVID spiking, the volunteer ranks could see dramatic swings.
This summer, the group Voter Protection Corps evaluated poll staffing in battleground states. In Wisconsin, nearly 30 counties were identified as areas in need of immediate recruiting efforts. In the August primaries, the Wisconsin National Guard was mobilized to help out.
Helgeson said her group hasn't seen any specific requests from clerks to enhance recruitment. She noted the Wisconsin Election Commission has been a key force in helping to spread the message for volunteer needs.
She said voters who choose to use absentee ballots can help the process by paying close attention to the instructions.
"That would save a lot of time, making sure that voters are completing that envelope," she said.
During the state's other primary this year, 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected for several reasons, including instances where voters or their witness forgot to sign. That makes it harder for clerks and their volunteers to address ballots that contain mistakes. These staff already are expected to count a lot of mailed-in ballots past Election Day because of high demand.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
get more stories like this via email
A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …
As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …
Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …
Utilities and government agencies in the U.S. are carrying out plans to transition to cleaner electricity sources. To avoid being left behind…
Health and Wellness
November has been Diabetes Awareness Month - but heading into the holidays, people who are diabetic know they can't lose their focus on keeping it in …
Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies…
As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …