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Monroe County provides protections for poll workers during the COVID-19 pandemic



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Voters wait in line to vote Tuesday at Election Central at 401 W. Seventh St. Voters said wait times were roughly an hour despite the long line on the first day of early voting in Indiana. Ethan Levy

Monroe County is supplying poll workers with equipment to stay safe while working during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitizer.

Karen Wheeler, the Monroe County election supervisor, said Monroe County is requiring poll workers to wear either a mask or a face shield, and will provide gloves as well. Monroe County will offer masks to voters who do not have one, she said.

Wheeler said there is hand sanitizer available and each polling station is disinfected after a voter visits. At Election Central, the only early voting location in the county, the doors will remain open for improved air quality and they will limit the number of people in the building at a time, she said. Election Central, located at 401 W. 7th St., Suite 100.

Chairs at the polling locations have been removed and unless a voter requires one, voters will stand, Wheeler said. 

Monroe County received personal protective equipment from the secretary of state and the supplies were delivered by the national guard, Wheeler said.

Marlene Moody, a poll worker at Election Central and Bloomington resident, said she chose to be a poll worker because she loves working with people. She said she has had previous experience as a poll worker.

“Everybody has been extremely pleasant and kind and they waited a long time in line and still have good attitudes,” she said.

Moody said she had no concerns about working during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Monroe County has provided masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant for the screens and tables at each station.

“It’s very safe,” she said.

Early voting in Monroe County for the 2020 general election began Oct. 6 and will continue until Nov. 2, the day before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Wheeler said there are 28 polling locations in Monroe County for Election Day this year, compared to a typical 34 in previous years and seven locations for the primary. 

The poll workers are recruited and hired by two recruiters, one Democrat and one Republican, Wheeler said. She said Monroe County does need more Republican poll workers, but could use more Democrats as well.

“It’s a Democratic county, so it’s easier to get the Democrats, generally,” she said.

On Election Day,the poll workers begin working at 5 a.m., the polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. and workers are done by 7 p.m. The poll workers are all paid, she said.

Wheeler said some poll workers have been hesitant to volunteer.

“We’re not trying to convince anyone to work,” she said. “It has to be their decision.”

Wheeler said a lot of people, both younger and older, have volunteered to be poll workers and are willing to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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