Kern County is less than 50 days away from the 2020 elections, and it seems that poll worker sign-ups have increased since 23ABC last talked to Kern Vote in August. 23ABC'ss Kristin Vartan has an update on the status of poll worker sign-ups and training this year.
The last time 23ABC spoke with Kern County’s auditor-controller clerk, Kern Vote had secured 400 poll workers. That number is now about 1,300. They would normally have around 2,000 on Election Day and don’t seem to be too worried about meeting that number this year.
During the last presidential election, misinformation and foreign interference infiltrated the voting process. This time around, the obstacle has been COVID-19.
Poll workers with preexisting conditions or an age that renders them susceptible to COVID-19 are unable to man the polls in Kern County this year. But Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk Clerk Mary Bedard said that fresh applications from the community have thankfully emerged.
“We really appreciate when people really feel like it’s a civic duty that they can perform for their fellow citizens," said Bedard "That’s where I think we’re getting a lot of these volunteers, is people like that, where they see the importance of this time around."
Bedard said poll workers will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines from training to Election Day.
“The poll workers generally go in the night before to get the basics set up, so we’ll be wiping down with disinfectant tables and anything of common use that people would be using. Then during the day, we’ll be disinfecting the voting booth area between voters. And we’re going to encourage people to bring their own pens.”
Most poll worker training will be online. Some in-person sessions will be conducted for anyone without internet or those specifically trained to be "experts" on COVID-related issues at each precinct.
Bedard says Kern Vote will intentionally station poll workers at sites closest to where they live.
“So they are really within their community, so the poll workers will reflect the community that is going to be voting at that poll site."
Kern Vote is also seeking bilingual poll workers. Anyone interested in signing up to work the polls can register online.
Most newcomers will be assigned as clerks, which are responsible for checking in and assisting voters, setting up before the polls open, and helping close and pack up after the polls close.
Also new this year, Kern Vote will host curbside drop-off events the three weekends leading up to the elections to encourage voting ahead of time.