CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield County officials are offering a financial incentive for additional elections officers as some vulnerable workers are expected to stay home.
The county is offering a $100 bonus to poll workers selected to work during the November 3rd General Election – bringing their overall compensation for their work during Election Day to $250.
The announcement coincided with National Poll Worker Recruitment Day.
“Chesterfield currently boasts more than 1,300 Officers of Election. However, an overwhelming number of those officers are over the age of 65, and with the growing concerns about the resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, the Registrar’s Office is preparing for several of those officers to potentially sit out this election,” according to a press release.
Chesterfield General Registrar Constance Hargrove estimated they’ll need 1,200 officers to work the polls.
“For this election of course we have COVID-19 and there are people who are concerned about their health and health of their family members,” she explained. “Even if they’re not in the vulnerable group there may be a family member at home who is in that vulnerable group so they’re just deciding to sit this one out.”
The county is working to recruit and encourage younger generations to apply.
Governor Ralph Northam spoke about the statewide need for poll workers at his Tuesday afternoon COVID-19 press conference.
“Our teams are working very hard and they need your help,” he said. “Many poll workers are elderly and high risk for COVID-19. We are seeing a shortage of poll workers across our state.”
Northam said the Department of Elections has partnered with the Health Department to provide safe and sanitary polling collections for voters and poll workers.
All potential officers must be registered voters in Virginia.
A typical day for an officer working the polls begins at 5 a.m. and does not end until all the votes are counted and reported.
Other duties include greeting and providing directions, helping voters that may not be able to leave their vehicle to vote, and checking in voters and issuing a ballot.
Hargrove said there will be enhanced sanitization efforts, workers will wear masks, and will follow the CDC guidelines.
Workers may also be sitting and standing for long periods as well as being able to lift up to 40 pounds with assistance.
On August 26, the Board of Supervisors approved two satellite Absentee Voting locations at the LaPrade Library located at 9000 Hull Street Road and the Meadowdale Library located at 4301 Meadowdale Boulevard.
On Wednesday, the Board will discuss two additional proposed satellite locations which include the North Courthouse Road Library at 325 Courthouse Road and the Ettrick-Matoaca Library located at 4501 River Road in South Chesterfield.
All of the locations, if approved, will be open starting two weeks before Election Day.
Matt Harris, the county’s Deputy County Administrator, said the locations will help keep people safe.
“We want to spread that activity out as much as possible and make it as convenient for Chesterfield voters as possible,” Harris explained. “We are using some of our libraries geographically spread throughout the county.”
Harris said the county has invested in extra polling equipment, but the issue is getting enough people to operate the stations.
“We need some civic engagement on this day to try and help get everybody in a safe manner. I think the additional bonus will set us apart,” he explained.
You’re urged to visit the county’s government website if you’d like to become an Officer of Election.
Richmond also seeking additional poll workers
Kirk Showalter, the city’s General Registrar, said they recently sent out recruitment emails to 400 potential applicants.
She estimated they’ll need at least an additional 300 officers to assist during the election for a total of about 1,100.
The city’s Office of General Registrar is currently relocating to a new location at 2134 West Laburnum Avenue ahead of Election Day and early voting. A grand opening is scheduled for September 11 at 2 p.m.
Showalter said they worried a surge of early voters would overwhelm their City Hall location.
After their move, City Hall and Hickory Hill Community Center on 3000 East Belt Boulevard will serve as satellite locations for absentee voting that will open on October 24.
Showalter urged people to go to RVA.gov in order to sign up to work the polls.