Minnesota election officials worry about shortage of poll workers during COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 has prompted some cities and counties to worry about a potential shortage of election judges — the people who work the polls — on primary day. In precincts, election judges tend to be older, and therefore more vulnerable to COVID-19, than the average Minnesotan. While many Minnesotans are expected — and encouraged — to vote by mail, in-person polling places will still be open in most cases for the primary (some more rural areas have switched to all-mail balloting, and voters should double-check polling places, because some have had to move due to being in senior centers or in small spaces). Minnesota needs as many as 30,000 judges for a typical statewide election. Precincts with more than 500 registered voters are required to have at least four election judges, while those with fewer than 500 registered voters need at least three. Judges must undergo two hours of training (offered online), be eligible voters and be able to read, write and speak English, but they are not required to be a resident of the area in which they serve. Student judges can help perform many of the duties of judges if they are 16 or 17. While the job is temporary, it is paid. How much a person is paid typically depends on experience and the locale: in Minneapolis, for example, judges are paid $17.15 an hour.