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Younger Election Day workers needed due to coronavirus, COVID-19 concerns

The July primary is right around the corner, and many poll workers say they won't be working because of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

BANGOR, Maine — Tuesday in New York, the democratic primary was canceled. In Ohio, all ballots were mailed in.

Here in Maine, officials are looking at ways to recruit volunteers for July and November.

The need for volunteers on Election Day is crucial because so many people who do volunteer are at risk of COVID-19.

Bangor city clerk Lisa Goodwin said about 70 of her Election Day workers told her they don't want to work during the July primary election because of COVID-19.

"Every city and town in Maine is dealing with the same thing," she said.

That's because the average age of an Election Day worker is 75-years-old, therefore at a higher risk to COVID-19.

"You don't have to be retired to be a poll worker, you can be 18-years-old,"  Maine Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap said. 

His office has been talking about this potential problem since the start of the pandemic, but it's not a new problem as Maine continues to age.

"This is not peculiar to the pandemic, although the pandemic certainly doesn't help very much," Dunlap said.

While there is a need for Election Day workers, there's also a push statewide to encourage Mainers to vote absentee.

One city official in Bangor who is hopeful people will utilize that option is city councilor, Ben Sprague.

"Fortunately in Maine people can vote by mail... they can vote early... so there's lots of opportunities for people to do that," Sprague said.

While it may not seem practical to take a day off work to work the polls... officials are hopeful to find a new group of Mainers who want to help out their communities.

Secretary Dunlap says a day of volunteering is worth it.

"Such an incredible feeling of helping people that I think we should not discount how important it is. Just that little volunteer effort, nobody forgets it, they all remember you and they all thank you because that's what's really important," Dunlap said.

If you're someone who still hopes to go out to the polls in the coming months... those who do decide to volunteer will have proper personal protective equipment to keep themselves and voters safe.

Maine's primary will be held on July 14 and the general election is on November 3.

RELATED: Governor Mills issues executive order moving primary election to July 14 due to coronavirus, COVID-19 concerns

RELATED: New York ER doctor on front line of coronavirus pandemic dies by suicide

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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