North Providence facing poll worker shortage

North Providence facing poll worker shortage

NORTH PROVIDENCE – As with communities across the country, North Providence is facing a severe shortage in poll workers for the upcoming fall elections.

“We probably need 100 workers, and we don’t have anywhere near that,” said Mayor Charles Lombardi this week. “We’re having an issue getting workers.”

Workers are needed to work the polls for the Sept. 8 primary and Nov. 3 general election.

The overwhelming problem this year is finding new workers to replace many of the older residents who have traditionally done the work over the two days, said Lombardi.

The town is offering a day’s work. Supervisors and greeters earn $155 per day, while moderators and clerks earn $180 per day. The town will do all necessary training for the two days.

“It’s a decent day’s pay,” said Lombardi.

Anyone interested in doing the work and getting paid is urged to call 401-232-0900, ext. 230.

Like many other states, Rhode Island has sought to lessen the burden at the polls by expanding vote-by-mail efforts.

In a statement last week, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said she was pleased to see the General Assembly pass legislation allowing Rhode Islanders to securely cast their ballots into a voting machine at their city or town hall up to 20 days before an election, a measure that will help reduce crowding at indoor polling places during the pandemic and ensure greater access to the ballot box going forward.

But she also criticized the Rhode Island Senate for failing the people of the state by not addressing legislation to make it easier to cast a ballot from home.

“Rhode Island is an outlier nationally with our burdensome requirement for voters to find a notary or two witnesses to vote by mail,” she said. “Several states have taken the common-sense step of removing these requirements this year. By not addressing the mail ballot legislation passed by the House, the Senate has given voters an unnecessary hurdle to casting a ballot by mail during the pandemic.”