MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are now 25 days left until Election Day, and states all over the country have been working to find enough workers to be at polling places. The threat of COVID-19 has many older adults backing out of the job this year.

Minnesota’s Secretary of State’s Office says there’s been a surge of younger voters wanting to help, but there are still certain requirements on who can be an election judge. Some poll workers can be turned away due to party affiliation.

Laura Vaughan and her husband applied to be election judges. The judges do things like sign in voters or register new ones and hand out ballots.

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“I thought that was a relatively easy thing I could do as a low-risk person,” she said. “I think like a lot of people this year everyone was kind of looking for more ways they could contribute.”

But the couple says they never heard back. Vaughan, a Democrat, saw an update on Hennepin County’s website saying they had received an unprecedented number of election judge applications and were not looking for any more DFL-affiliated poll workers. Several viewers told WCCO they were denied due to their political party.

“Some jurisdictions are saying, ‘Hey, we have enough Republicans, we really need Democrats,’ or ‘Hey, we have enough Democrats we really need Republicans to step up in this area,'” Risikat Adesaogun, press secretary for Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon’s office, said.

Under state law, at least two election judges in a polling place should be affiliated with different major political parties. (Minnesota has four.) And no more than half of the election judges in a precinct can be from the same major party.

There is often also a need to find poll workers who are fluent in other languages.

There can be as many as 30,000 election judges at polling places across Minnesota on Election Day. A spokesperson for Simon’s said they should be in good shape for Election Day, but they like to overrecruit in case any poll workers back out.

The pay to be an election judge varies by city. Click here for more information.

Kate Raddatz

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