Poll worker shortage ahead of the midterms in the South Bay

Three weeks until the midterm elections, and counties across the country and state are facing a shortage of poll workers to staff voting precincts. So, the call is going out to those willing and able to step forward and serve.

Weeks before election day, and some voters are already casting their ballots. But empty rooms like the one seen inside the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office Tuesday will not be common.  Voter turnout is projected to be much larger November 6, and Santa Clara County officials want to ensure they have enough poll workers to staff their 850 precincts.

“The excitement of it for community members, it comes closer to the election. Several months ahead of time, it’s hard for them to be thinking ‘Lemme go work at the polls on Election Day and support my community on election day three months later.’ But this is the time to hear the call and have them step forward,” said county Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey.

County Registrar Shannon Bushey says the number of vacancies had been as high as 1,000 a few months ago. Officials have been advertising the need for help on 20 VTA bus routes covering the South County to Palo Alto. 850 slots are still open in Santa Clara, and isn’t confined to the South Bay.

Alameda is in need of 800 poll workers, and Contra Costa needs a little over 100.

After the passage of Senate Bill 45 in 2017, all San Mateo County residents vote by mail. County employees will staff the 39 vote centers, with minimal help from a small number of poll workers who’ll seve as greeters.

Bushey says in her county, volunteering means committing to one day of training ahead of time, and then a possible 14-hour day on Election Day. Officials hope a $200 stipend will entice fence-sitters to take the plunge.

“It’s a great opportunity to come help their county. Help the entire election process. And be a part of this special day,” said Bushey.

The last day to register to vote is October 22. Santa Clara County officials say they’ll accept volunteers up to the Friday before the election, November 2, so they can get you into a training class. To sign up no matter where you live, contact your county registrar of voters or county clerk’s office.