Poll workers facing dual threat of COVID-19, potential violence

ERIN SCHUMAKER
·2 min read

Poll workers this week have endured the dual threats of COVID-19 and potential violence as they've scrambled to tabulate votes and report results.

Contracting COVID-19 while working the polls always was a risk for workers, given the record number of Americans who voted this year and the worsening outbreak in the United States.

On Thursday, fears about COVID-19 came to fruition for poll workers in Missouri, after the public health department in St. Charles County released a statement explaining that an election judge supervisor received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis prior to Election Day and showed up for work anyway. The person has since died. It's unclear whether the virus caused the worker's death.

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Health department epidemiologists have contacted election workers who were at the site and said in a statement that they do not think the 1,858 voters who cast ballots at the site on Tuesday are at risk for infection.

PHOTO: An election worker examine ballots as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
PHOTO: An election worker examine ballots as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Atlanta. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

In Michigan, election workers were forced to contend with angry and aggressive phone calls, according to Dana Nessel, the state's attorney general.

"Please stop making harassing & threatening calls to my staff," Nessel wrote on Twitter. "They are kind, hardworking public servants just doing their job. Asking them to shove sharpies in uncomfortable places is never appropriate."

In Arizona, roughly 100 conservative protesters, some carrying military-style rifles, gathered outside of the Maricopa County election site in Phoenix, prompting workers to erect a temporary fence around the parking lot.

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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told CNN that the protesters ultiimately were "preventing those employees from doing their job."

In Georgia, poll workers faced a more mundane obstacle Tuesday when a pipe burst at a ballot processing site in the Atlanta area, according to deputy Jordan Fuchs, Georgia's deputy secretary of state. No ballots were damaged, but it delayed processing them by about four hours.

ABC News' Emily Shapiro and Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

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