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Poll workers train to combat COVID-19 spread during Presidential Preference Election

Published: Mar. 12, 2020 at 7:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Democrats in Arizona will vote in the 2020 Presidential Preference Election on Tuesday, March 17.

While voters can choose to vote by mail, others, perhaps thousands, will go to a polling place to cast a ballot in person.

Pima County has 123 voting sites, which will be manned by 1,300 poll workers.

Those workers are in training right now amid the ongoing coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak.

Many are wondering what the county is doing to protect them on election day.

Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson said the county has scoured drug stores to come up with enough wipes and hand sanitizer for all 123 polling places.

However, he’s relying on volunteers to wash their hands often, stop shaking hands, limit contact and cover their coughs and sneezes.

“What we’ve been able to tell this is that if they are part of the population with medical conditions that puts them at risk by serving as a polls worker, they might want to reconsider,” he said. “Some of them have gone so far ask to contact their physician to see what their physicians might say as well.”

Out of the hundreds of workers, Nelson said only a few have opted out over health concerns or other issues.

The county has backup workers just in case, however.

Poll worker Dora Almanza said she is concerned and wants to know what the county will do to keep her safe.

“Of course everybody’s concerned, I mean we should be,” she said. “It’s not paranoid but cautiously concerned.”

Nelson said it’s not only the poll workers who should be the ones protected, but also those who decide to vote in person as well.

“If an individual is not able to come in to the polling place to case a ballot, not just deposit their early ballot, they can vote within their car,” he said. “All polling places are equipped to do that and all the poll workers are trained to do that.”

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