Local poll workers prepare for an election in the midst of a pandemic

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - In one week, voters will head to the polls for a primary runoff election in the middle of a COVID-19 case spike in Central Texas.

Almost 100 workers and volunteers gathered at the Bell County Expo Center Wednesday evening for the first of two training sessions on how to work safely at the polls on Election Day.

The second session is Thursday.

Bell County Elections Administrator Melinda Luedecke says planning for the election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy

“The lines may look longer than they really are because they’re faced six feet apart,” she said.

“We’ve been getting all the (personal protective equipment) in place for our workers and locations that are allowing us in know that our numbers will be large. Despite all that, here we are. We’re a week out and we’ll make it happen.”

Workers will be required to wear face shields at all times and administer a contactless check-in, aimed at limiting both the voters’ and the workers’ exposure to COVID-19.

With the extreme hot temperatures coming next week, more staff may be needed to keep an eye on voters waiting outside.

To add to the challenges, Luedecke says there are fewer volunteers this year.

“Most are retired individuals,” she said.

“There’s been a few that have opted out due to underlying health concerns or possible exposure to COVID-19.”

Despite the challenges, Luedecke emphasized how critical it is to have both staff and voters safely prepared for Election Tuesday.

“It’s still very important that people get their voices out and see who they want on the ballots in November,” she said.

“As far as safety, we’re doing the best we can.”

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