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Connecticut seeks poll workers after other states have struggled to staff polling sites during coronavirus pandemic

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Connecticut election officials are preparing for a potential shortage of poll workers in the August presidential primary and November general election as the many elderly retirees who normally work those jobs could decide to remain home due to being at higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

“One of the major effects of COVID-19 we have seen in other states is the struggle to staff polling places and local election offices,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Monday as she announced a new statewide recruitment drive for poll workers. “We are working with our local election officials to make sure that they have the resources they need for the elections in August and November, including adequate staffing. No Connecticut voter will have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote.”

The state has nearly 800 different polling places in 169 cities and towns, and they need a minimum of three workers at each site, officials said. On the day of the Aug. 11 presidential primaries, Democrats will also have 11 primaries for legislative races in Hartford, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Wethersfield, New Britain, Bridgeport and other communities. Republicans will have eight primaries, including three congressional races in the 1st District in Greater Hartford, the 4th District in Fairfield County and the 2nd District in eastern Connecticut.

Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Merrill, said the state wants to be prepared for “people at the last minute who say they are unable” to work at the polls. The problem has arisen in other states, and the state wants to be prepared.

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