Whatever national political kookiness may transpire between now and Nov. 3, at least the Arlington elections office is not having to stress out over a lack of those willing and able to work the polls.
“We were fully staffed by Sept. 1, which is unheard of,” county director of elections Gretchen Reinemeyer said during an online forum sponsored by the Arlington County Bar Foundation.
“We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve never had that many workers express an interest that early in the process,” Reinemeyer said. “We are turning away people.”
(Although there likely will be the need to plug an occasional hole. “In my experience, there’s always people that drop out at the last minute,” said Reinemeyer, who served as deputy to county elections chief Linda Lindberg and, after Lindberg’s retirement last year, was tapped to succeed her.)
Reinemeyer said Arlington’s experience is not unique in terms of having a wealth of pollworkers early in the process. “That’s true of all of Northern Virginia – we’ve seen record numbers,” she said.
With many in the electorate this year opting to cast ballots early, either by mail or in person, there likely will be far fewer at the polls on Nov. 3 than had been the case in recent presidential elections. But the turnout on Election Day is still expected to be significant.
John Vihstadt, a former County Board member who participated in the Bar Foundation forum, said local election officials and the community benefited from conducting two elections – a June U.S. Senate primary and July County Board special election – earlier in the COVID crisis.
“It worked great,” Vihstadt said of the precautions that were put in place.
And while there always can be improvements, Vihstadt – who has been casting ballots in Arlington since 1981 – said the county deserves the high regard it gets for conducting elections.
“Times change, people change, [but] voting in Arlington has always been speedy, it’s been simple, it’s been safe and it’s been secure,” he said.
Election officers receive $175 for what usually ends up being a 15-hour day at the polls. Each precinct is led by a chief pollworker, who earns $230, and an assistant, who pockets $200.
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