TRI-CITY AREA — In the run up to November’s general election, officials across the country and state say there’s a desperate need for poll workers, but does that same urgency exist locally?
Some clerks from the Tri-City area say they’ve got the help they need while others would be grateful for the extra manpower come November 3.
The current election cycle promises to remain challenging due, in large part, to the pandemic. More voters are opting to vote absentee and clerks have had to rearrange polling places to accommodate social distancing and implement new sanitation routines.
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In Goodland Township, Clerk Mavis Roy said that in times like these, she welcomes additional poll workers.
“With the rules changing all the time, we never really know what we’re going to need,” Roy said.
She anticipates she’ll need up to 10 election inspectors for November.
Teenagers are encouraged to volunteer too. Even if they’re not 18 years old—the legal age to be an inspector—Roy said they’d utilize high school students as election helpers to greet voters at the door or help clean tables after use.
In the meantime, office staff will be busy processing absentee applications and ballots.
“It’s looks like our absentee numbers will be tripled in comparison to a typical year,” Roy said.
“In August we had double the usual number.”
For more information about serving as an election inspector or helper in Goodland Township, contact Roy at 810-724-0169.
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Carla Jepsen, Imlay Township’s Clerk, says she could use the extra help on election day.
“We try to split the day into shifts with four to five people working per shift,” Jepsen said.
Prospective election inspectors need to be appointed and then plan to attend training in the third or fourth week of October.
Jepsen is hoping to add extra equipment to the township’s inventory too.
“We are hoping to have a second tabulator for our absentee voter counting board. I’ve ordered it and applied for a state grant to help cover the cost,” Jepsen said.
They plan to again set up a tent just outside the hall’s entrance to offer voters some protection from the elements while they wait to vote. They did that for the first time in August and voters were appreciative, she noted.
As of mid-September, Jepsen said one-quarter of township voters had already requested an absentee ballot and she expects that number to rise.
“Ballots can be turned in on election day but preferably before then,” she said.
“We have a drop box on the front of the building where ballots can be deposited.”
For more information about serving as an election inspector in Imlay Township, contact Jepsen at 810-724-8835.
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In Mussey Township, Clerk Sheila McDonald said she has the needed number of election inspectors ready to report to the polls in November when township and Capac village residents descend on St. John’s Lutheran Church to vote.
In August, McDonald said they brought on extra help to keep equipment and surfaces clean and utilized a new tabulator to count absentee ballots.
“We had good practice with the August primary. Everything went smoothly,” McDonald said.
Like the other clerks, she encourages absentee voters to submit their completed ballots through the mail with plenty of time to spare or to utilize either one of two drop boxes at the township hall—in the hall’s entryway or on the exterior of the hall to the left of the front door.
McDonald said this election cycle they’ve been fielding concerns from residents regarding unsolicited absentee applications that come in the mail from special interest groups.
“The township’s return address appears on the envelope and residents think the application came from us and say we’re wasting taxpayer dollars but it’s not coming from us,” she noted.
“We only send one out if a resident requests it.”
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“I’ve never had trouble finding people to work,” said Almont Township Clerk Carol Hoffner, adding that she recently added newcomers to the ranks.
Typically, Hoffner needs seven to eight election inspectors in each of two precincts that encompass both the township and village. Three workers are also assigned to process absentee ballots.
“In all, we’ll have seven different ballots for the General Election,” Hoffner said, attributing the large number to various school districts races.
Earlier this month, at least 1,800 of 5,200 registered voters had already requested absentee ballots in Almont, she added.
Hoffner reminds absentee voters that completed ballots can be deposited in drop boxes in the village/township hall’s front entrance or outside the building near the north drive.