Galvin confident voting locations will be well-staffed

Boston Statehouse

Secretary William Galvin, the state’s top elections official, held his pre-primary news conference Tuesday in front of the State House. (Sam Doran/SHNS)

BOSTON (SHNS) – The top elections official in Massachusetts said Monday he’s “not worried” about the availability of poll workers for Tuesday’s state primary, despite some older poll workers opting out or expressing reluctance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary of State William Galvin said Monday that his office had advised local officials earlier this year to “set up a bullpen, if you will, of substitutes” to step in and staff polling places. Some municipalities have found it “very successful” to train younger people to work as poll workers, he said.

“We’re hopeful we’ll have enough,” Galvin said, when asked about poll workers during his traditional pre-election press conference. “We’ve also engaged in various protective strategies. Sneeze shields are being distributed to those offices that want them, hand sanitizer, PPE, so we want to make sure we keep our election workers safe, but we’re confident we’ll have enough people tomorrow.”

The nonpartisan advocacy group MassVOTE last week put out what it described as an “urgent call for poll workers across the state” for Tuesday’s primary, citing “immense delays” in in-person voting in states like Georgia and Wisconsin that lacked adequate numbers of poll workers.

The group said in a statement that state officials and advocates here have been working to recruit as many poll workers as possible but “we still face an all-too-great risk of replicating these conditions next week.”

MassVOTE executive director Cheryl Clyburn Crawford said cities with vast communities of color, lower incomes, and immigrants like Boston, Randolph, Brockton, Worcester, Springfield and Lowell have been among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis and are also “in the greatest need of poll workers.”

Most of the upwards of 1.2 million voters Galvin expects to participate in this year’s primary have already cast their ballots by mail.

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