Oswego County Board of Elections puts out call to help fill poll worker positions

OSWEGO — The Oswego County Board of Elections is putting out a clarion call for aid to help fill election inspector positions before November’s election.

Like all counties in New York, the Oswego County Board of Elections (BOE) is navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say the situation has left the BOE “scrambling” to fill the poll worker spots.

“Understandably, many of our inspectors have grown nervous about working the polls on Election Day and the potential exposure to the virus,” said BOE Democratic Party Commissioner Laura Brazak. Couple that with fewer Dems overall in Oswego County and an “aging population complicated by health issues” among its regular workers, and the BOE is looking for solutions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needed to issue a special dispensation for upstate county Boards of Elections to consolidate poll sites for the June 23 primary election, lowering the requirement from 440 poll workers to 172.

“Still, seats on both sides of the political aisle went unfilled,” Brazak said. “The short version of the story is: we need more poll workers!”

Poll worker training is available from now until Sept. 24, Brazak said, with morning, afternoon and evening sessions available to “accommodate every schedule.” The training runs roughly three hours and attendees will earn $55 for completion.

“We do our best to keep poll workers as close to their home district as possible,” Brazak said, noting mileage is paid if the assignment means travel.

Training affects pay rate, Brazak said. A trained election inspector makes $200 for working on Election Day, compared to $125 for an untrained worker.

State election law sets the number of election inspectors at each election district (precinct or ward) to four; two from each of the top two performing parties as of the most recent gubernatorial election, officials said.  Oswego County has 110 election districts meaning the BOE is looking to get to a total of 440: 220 Democrats and 220 Republicans. In the 2019 general election, the board was still nearly 30 Democrats short of the threshold.

The Oswego BOE said it has taken “every and all precautions necessary to insure the health of poll workers and voters.” Safety measures included social distancing policies, masks and gloves for those who need them as well as increased cleanliness standards. BOE staff that visit poll sites throughout the day will be required to wipe down surfaces, all materials and to check on supplies.

For more information on how to become an election poll site inspector, visit oswegocounty.com or call the Board of Elections at 315-349-8351.

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