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Wisconsin governor may activate National Guard to fill poll worker shortages | Daily’s Flash

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he plans to activate the Wisconsin National Guard to make up for poll worker shortages in dozens of municipalities across the state.

“The Guard will play a role as much as they are needed,” Evers said.

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Wisconsin — a battleground state that President Trump won by less than a percentage point in 2016 — is relatively well prepared less than two weeks away from Election Day.

Despite surging cases of coronavirus that have shattered records in recent weeks, only about 180 poll workers more are needed out of 30,000 that staff polling sites in 51 municipalities, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said on Thursday.

The shortage is far less than during the state’s primaries in August, when polling sites were lacking 700 workers, forcing some centers to close. The coronavirus crisis coupled with fewer polling sites at that time saw long wait times for voters, causing concerns of lower turnout. 

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The largest shortfalls are in Green Bay, where 30 workers were needed, and in Menomonie, in the western part of the state near Minnesota, where there was a shortage of 15.

Watertown City Clerk Elissa Friedl said Thursday that she had just asked the elections commission to remove her city from the list because she was confident all 100 people needed to work the polls on Election Day would be available. 

Even if people back out close to the election, Friedl said she has city employees at the ready to fill vacancies. Watertown has about 24,000 residents and is located midway between Madison and Milwaukee.

“Clerks are doing a good job of recruiting and Wisconsin citizens are stepping up in response to either calls to action or problems that occurred in April,” Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said, according to the Associated Press.

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Election officials, advocacy groups and others in Wisconsin and across the country have been recruiting poll workers more aggressively this year because older volunteers have been backing out due to concerns over the coronavirus. 

A record-high number of Wisconsin voters are also casting absentee ballots, which election officials say should cut down on lines on Election Day as well. As of Thursday, more than 785,000 voters had returned absentee ballots. That is more than 26% of the total number who voted in the 2016 presidential election.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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