Nationwide poll worker shortage evident in Oklahoma

VIDEO: Shortage of poll workers becoming nationwide issue

TULSA, Okla. — The coronavirus pandemic is leading to a shortage of people to work at the polls on Election Day in the U.S. including Oklahoma.

Some polling places face the possibility of not having enough people to work.

Tulsa County has 262 precincts, each of which state law requires three poll workers to be stationed -- a Democrat, a Republican and one other party.

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Filling those precincts requires 786 volunteers on Election Day.

Busier precincts will need more than just three. The Tulsa County Election Board says they would like to have about 1,200 workers after about 250 regular poll workers dropped out since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

So far, more than 400 people have volunteered to work the polls in Tulsa County.

Polls open for Oklahoma's primary election
Polls open for Oklahoma's primary election

The election board says volunteers will receive a packet that needs to be returned, but not everyone will return them.

Until those returns, election board officials won’t know how many volunteers they will have on Nov. 3 or how many more they still need.

Usually, the election board holds a full day of in-person training in a classroom for poll workers but due to COVID-19 safety, the state’s election board is providing a video for workers to watch.

The Oklahoma State Election Board says they had enough poll workers to cover the statewide election to cover all of nearly 2,000 precincts in June.

Last year the state legislature passed a law to increase poll workers' pay gradually over the next several years.

Poll workers across Oklahoma are paid the same amount; Inspectors receive $110 per day, and judges and clerks receive $100 per day.

If poll workers travel more than 20 miles, they receive payment for mileage.