Riley County’s top election official says the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the number of poll workers that will be available to assist in the Aug. 4 primary.
“We’ve had 81 poll workers for the general election tell us they won’t work this (primary) election. The good news is our community has been responsive and have gotten a lot of new poll workers to sign up,” he said.
Many of those long-time poll workers are senior citizens and at greater health risk for infection from the virus. He’s hoping some of them can come back for the general election Nov. 3, because of their knowledge of the election process.
Vargo’s office will begin Wednesday mailing out over 6,300 mail ballots to Riley County residents. Pottawatomie County is sending around 2,200 to registered voters.
“As long as you signed those and filled in the appropriate information, you will be getting one sent out for the primary election beginning Wednesday,” he said.
Mail ballots for the general election won’t be mailed until Oct. 14, three weeks prior to Election Day, which is Nov. 3. Mail ballots can be mailed to the county clerk’s office or hand delivered. Voters also have the option of bringing them to their polling place the day of the election.
Those wishing to advance vote at the Riley County Office Building downtown, should be aware of some extra safety measures that are in place. Vargo explains those coming into the building are required to check in with the receptionist on the ground floor.
“They’ll send you upstairs and we have x’s on the floor that delineate the six-foot distance for social distancing, We do encourage people to wear masks and since the building is located within Manhattan, they are required (by city ordinance),” he said.
Hand sanitizer is available in the building and Vargo says each voting machine is wiped down and disinfected after every use. The process may take a bit longer than usual, but Vargo says they aren’t expecting lines to be an issue with so many opting for mail ballots for the primary. Those same measures are also taking place at the county’s polling places.
“We do have 29 of our regular 30 polling places open. One was not accessible to us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will trudge on like normal and people have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote as well,” he said.
The one polling site not available is the Manhattan Fire Station located at Kimball Ave. and Denison.
Advance voting, continues until noon Aug. 3.