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Election board making sure poll workers will be protected from virus

LISBON — As elections approach with COVID-19, the county elections board is in the process of ordering personal protective equipment for poll workers.

Deputy director Bryce Miner said the board has $76,323 in CARES Act funds to spend on the general election, to purchase items and provide additional staffing to make certain they are fully prepared for the upcoming election on Nov. 3. He believes they will be able to get adequate supplies.

Director Kim Fusco said they have been looking at quotes for getting masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and face shields.

They are also surveying precinct election workers to learn which ones still feel comfortable being a poll worker during the coronavirus situation and whether they would be willing to serve if case numbers rise.

Board chairman David Johnson said he believes the shields would be more comfortable to wear all day. Vice chair Patty Colian said she did not believe the face shield was as protective if it does not fit tightly against your face and someone should still wear a mask under it. Johnson countered he believes the face shield is an option for those who cannot wear masks.

Fusco said they will have to look at what is required when it comes to masks for staff and voters when election time comes closer.

“We have to take this absolutely to the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and make everybody know we are going to take every precaution for the safety of the voters and the safety of our staff,” Johnson said.

In other matters:

— The board staff has had presentations from two vendors for changing the voting system. The county board has more than $1 million to spend on upgrading its voting system. They are in the process of checking to see which one is the better fit. It was discussed whether a sealed bid is necessary when the products are very different. A new system will not be in place until after the general election.

— The board has already received about 500 applications for absentee ballots for the upcoming election in November. The board approved the hiring of at least a couple of additional people to help as the election time nears.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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