Atlanta, GA

Metro Atlanta counties still need “hundreds of poll workers” as Tuesday’s primary fast approaches

Voters cast their ballots at a polling precinct in Fulton CountyEmilia Weinrobe for Atlanta Civic Circle

Many of Georgia’s largest county election offices face a serious shortage of poll workers as they head into Election Day for Tuesday’s primary.

“Hundreds of poll workers are needed,” Vasu Abhiraman, senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Georgia, told Atlanta Civic Circle.

The need for poll workers has spiked, he explained, as voters return to the polls to cast their votes in person after two years of pandemic isolation. “In 2020, everyone was staying at home,” Abhiraman said. “If they were going out to vote, they would often be voting early or by mail.”

This time around, he said, many Georgians, now vaccinated and boosted, are likely to show up on Election Day.

He said the poll worker shortage is particularly acute in DeKalb County, Gwinnett County and other high-population counties. Without more poll workers, voters may experience long waits and, in worst-case scenarios, leave without voting.

Keisha Smith, DeKalb County executive director of Voter Registration and Elections, told Atlanta Civic Circle the county has “sufficient staffing levels for Election Day” but is still “navigating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic”  which has kept the county from being able to reach “ideal staffing levels. “We are adjusting staffing in real-time to ensure the best voter experience at all of our polling locations in DeKalb,” Smith said.

Poll workers statewide already faced challenges during early voting, grappling with glitches in the state’s main voter-verification system and ballot mixups.

Want to be a poll worker? Act fast because election day is rapidly approaching.

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