Secretary of State’s Office launching “Operation Elective Service” to recruit poll workers

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced on Friday that he is launching “Operation Elective Service” to recruit people who are less susceptible to COVID-19 to volunteer for a paid poll worker position for the May Primary Election.

A release from the Secretary of State’s Office stated that this program was created due to the fact that some of the people who often staff the polls during elections are senior citizens or those with existing medical conditions, which are some of the groups most susceptible to the coronavirus.

Secretary Warner said the program is inspired by the famous Uncle Sam recruiting portraiture and the U.S. Selective Service program. The release stated that a social media campaign will encourage citizens to “sign up” and will enlist the help of schools and educators, businesses, labor, trade and other organizations to assist with poll worker recruitment for each county.

There are currently 1,723 polling locations throughout West Virginia, each requiring five poll workers assigned to each precinct, according to the release. Secretary Warner’s Office said that Statewide elections in West Virginia require more than 9,000 workers on Election Day.

“I’m asking West Virginians who are willing and able to step up and help out in our democratic process,” Warner said. “We’re doing our best to offer opportunities to vote, and everyone is working under difficult circumstances. Recruiting more poll workers will help counties fill vacancies left by veteran poll workers who may not be able to work the polls in this Primary. This is a great civic opportunity for our younger generation to help administer and protect our democracy. They can help make sure every eligible voter has the chance to vote.”

The release noted that CDC officials have not been able to predict the peak of the epidemic in the coming months, so the date of the May 12 Primary Election stands as mandated by law. Accordingly, Warner has worked closely with the Governor, the Attorney General and county clerks to make voting options as robust as ever in the state, according to the release.

“People have three ways to vote in the Primary,” Warner said. “First, everyone is eligible to vote from home by absentee ballot; second, they can vote early at satellite locations from Apr 29 to May 9; or third, they can vote at the polls on election day.” 

The release stated that in order to assist with early voting from April 29 to May 9, and Election Day on May 12, many counties will need additional support and poll workers.

“If poll workers are concerned for their health, we certainly understand and appreciate that concern. With the recent Stay-at-Home order by the Governor, we’ve developed a strategy to recruit less susceptible people to step up and help fill poll worker vacancies,” Warner said.

The release stated that all poll workers are paid to attend a training seminar hosted by county clerks and for their work on election day. Total pay depends on the county and ranges between $175-$240 per person, according to the release.

The Secretary of State’s Office established an easy online form for any person interested in signing up to be a poll worker. The portal is available at WVSOS.gov under “Become a Poll Worker,” according to the release.

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