Vote 2020: Chicago sees increase in poll worker applications despite COVID-19 concerns

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Chicago sees increase in poll worker applications despite COVID-19 concerns
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What is being done to keep poll workers and voters safe during the pandemic.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- COVID-19 has already forced Illinois election officials to retool some voting procedures. Social distancing, personal protective equipment and additional ways to turn in your ballot are all side-effects of the pandemic.

Some election authorities are worried the virus may prevent people from signing up to work the polls. Although in Chicago, so far, that is not a problem.

"We're confident that all the polling places will be staffed, Chicago Election Board Chairwoman Marisel Hernandez told the I-Team. "And interestingly enough if you compare elections of prior years, right at this time, in terms of poll worker applications, our numbers are higher in this election which is indicative of the voters, I think, interest in having a safe and secure election."

Illinois election officials prepare for voting during COVID-19 pandemic

Hernandez says she is pleasantly surprised so many people are signing up to work the polls.

"Nevertheless, we're encouraging voters, if they are not going to be working on Election Day to please go to and fill out an application to work on Election Day. We would welcome, welcome, everyone. It's going to be safe and secure for poll workers and voters alike," said Hernandez.

Democrat Bill Bergfalk lives on the north side and recently signed up to be an early voting judge.

"I think every election is very important," said Bergfalk. "I am a 60 plus year old man, I am diabetic, and I don't feel any fear of being an election judge because I know I'll follow all the protocols that are recommended by the CDC and other health organizations. I don't see it being anything different than going to a grocery store, or a drug store."

Lake County, Illinois, election officials say they are also taking precautions to keep both workers and voters safe.

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"I've had many judges that are, you know, close community with reached out to me asking about these concerns I have let them know that you know the office and Robin O'Connor our clerk, has been partnering with all the state agencies to get the PPE required for both the election judging team, as well as the general public where, where necessary so that we can ensure a safe election," said Brandon Fuchs, Lake County Election Site Coordinator.

Some suburban and downstate counties are having difficulties recruiting election judges. DuPage County just doubled judge pay by adding a COVID supplement, pushing the total to $260 for the day. That is higher than Cook County and Chicago. DuPage early voting begins the first allowable day which is this Thursday. Many counties don't start then. Chicago is October first, Cook County October 7th, but not all locations.


League of Women Voters 2020 election calendar

Cook County Clerk Election Resources

Chicago Board of Elections Key Dates and Fast Facts

DuPage County Board of Elections

Lake County Board of Elections

Kane County Board of Elections

McHenry County Clerk Election Information

Will County Clerk Election Information