PORTLAND, Maine — The statewide primary and referendum election is July 14, and while poll workers and volunteers are needed nearly every election cycle, this year the situation is even more dire due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of the "typical" workers may not feel comfortable working at polling sites this year. Maine Dems Voter Protection Director Ryder Kessler said in Maine, like many other states, "it's poll workers are predominantly from demographic groups that are vulnerable to COVID-19."
According to data from the Secretary of State's Office, in 2016, about 60 percent of Maine's poll workers were older than 60.
On Monday, the City of Portland announced there was an "urgent" need for poll workers. The call for workers prompted more than 100 applications, City of Portland director of communications Jessica Grondin said.
"So we are hopeful we will get what we need," Grondin said. "But we are still encouraging folks to apply."
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In Portland's case, the positions are paid. Workers make $12 an hour and there's no experience necessary. Training is provided, and you don't have to be a Portland resident to apply.
Kessler says, "Knowing there is something they can do that is paid, and also helps their neighbors and helps democracy seems to be an enticing message."
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap suggests asking your place of work for time off in order to volunteer.
"Employers are often more than happy to extend time for civic leave, and working at the polls is civic leave, no question about it," Dunlap said.
If you're interested in working polls, you should contact your local town or city clerk to see how you can help. You can also work at polling locations outside of the town where you live.
If you are interested in working at the polls on Election Day in Portland, submit an online application for either Election Clerk or Deputy Registrar to the City Clerk's office.
To see where there is a need for workers, visit VoteinMaine.com/work.