Voters this year can expect longer wait times at the polls in Riley County.
County Clerk Rich Vargo says his office has heard from 70 poll workers that will not be helping out this year due to coronavirus concerns. This means those who want to vote at the polling sites will have to wait longer if there are a large number of people.
“I absolutely predict we will be limited on staff. Even if we’re fully staffed, it’s going to be a longer process because of all the sanitation requirements and extra efforts that will need to be made regardless if we have all polling places open,” says Vargo.
As of now, Vargo says they will have as many polling places open as they can according to state law. There have not been any polling locations that will not hold polls, but there are a few that are contingent on the status of the pandemic.
To help with inevitable staff shortages, Vargo says they are looking into recruiting more poll workers. They are looking for 80 more workers to accommodate for any last minute cancellations. Poll worker pay is $110 per day for about a 14 hour day. Vargo says workers will arrive around 5 a.m. and leave sometime around 8 p.m.
Vargo is encouraging voters to vote by mail this year to offset staff shortages and to keep everyone safe. This is why the clerk’s office sent out a mail in ballot application to all registered voters in the county. The flyers were sent out on Thursday, May 28. A majority of voters should have received theirs over the weekend.
The flyer includes a change of party affiliation form, and applications for both the primary and general elections. The postage is paid for and the voter information is already filled out. All voters need to do is sign the applications and send them back in free of charge. Any registered voter who did not receive a flyer can call the clerk’s office.
Primary election will take place on Aug 4, and the general election date is Nov 3.