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Mayor Ras Baraka votes in the May 8, 2018 Newark municipal election,

Coronavirus could mean Election Day poll worker shortage

Election official: ‘Most of our board workers are senior citizens’

By David Wildstein, March 16 2020 11:23 am

Some election officials are anticipating a shortage of poll workers in municipalities that have elections coming up between now and May, a reality that could factor into Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision about whether some or all these elections might be postponed.

Election Day workers tend to be older and in a higher-risk category for coronavirus issues.

“Most of our board workers are senior citizens,” one North Jersey election official told the New Jersey Globe.  “The question is ‘is it safe?’ You take the necessary precautions, but is it enough? We don’t know.”

But in Atlantic City, where a March 31 referendum will decide if voters want a change in their form of government, the Globe has learned that no poll workers have called to cancel.

Atlantic County officials have assigned six Election Day workers to every district – three from each party – but since it’s a non-partisan election, they will proceed as long as they have at least four total.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) said that political considerations for Newark’s April 16 school board elections are not even close to the list of things she’s concerned about right now.

“We don’t know where we’ll be at that time,” said Ruiz about local elections, noting that Murphy might need to just push all April Board of Education races to another date.

Poll workers in New Jersey must receive mandatory training every two years, something that could necessitate groups of more than 50.

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