Wisconsin polling locations closing due to lack of workers ahead of April primary

Wisconsin polling locations closing due to lack of workers ahead of April primary
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Election clerks in Wisconsin are short-staffed and preparing to close some polling locations ahead of the state’s April 7 primary, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In Milwaukee alone, the election clerk is more than 1,000 people short of what they need for the upcoming election, according to the Journal Sentinel. Another 300 people were needed to collect absentee ballots, but the election commission was able to hire fewer than 50.

Local election officials told the Journal Sentinel that poll workers and volunteers were asking to pull out due to concerns about the coronavirus. City officials are asking residents to request absentee ballots, though that process poses its own issues. 

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State-mandated social distancing measures further complicate the training process for the few people they are able to hire.

“Given the inability to train new poll workers, it is virtually certain that we will lack sufficient poll workers to staff the polling locations across the city, and will likewise lack the requisite number of staff members to process absentee ballots at the central count location,” Neil Albrecht, director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said in a court filing last week, according to the Journal Sentinel. 

Wisconsin, which allocates 84 pledged delegates and is slated to host the Democratic National Convention in July, has been under a stay-at-home order since Wednesday. 

Though other states have chosen to postpone their primaries to the summer, as of Tuesday Wisconsin officials are moving forward with holding the presidential primary election next Tuesday as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to mount in the state. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Wisconsin has over 1,200 confirmed cases of the virus and 20 deaths, according to a count by The New York Times.