If you oppose mail-in voting because President Donald Trump calls it a fraud, prepare to stand in long lines to cast your ballot on Nov. 3 Election Day.
Election officials across the country report they are finding it exceptionally difficult to recruit sufficient volunteer poll workers to help process in-person voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In western Maryland's Allegany County, for example, the election board has announced that instead of the usual 37 precinct voting stations, there will be only six polling places on Election Day.
Diane Loibel, board administrator, said concern over the virus has significantly depressed the volume of volunteer poll workers, necessitating far fewer voting stations.
She said hundreds of volunteers are needed to staff the 37 precincts throughout the rural county. Instead, in-person voting will be done at four schools, a volunteer fire office and the county office complex in Cumberland, Maryland.
“Most of our poll workers are 60 and above,” said Loibel. “They are the ones more susceptible to the virus and they did not feel comfortable working.”
Lack of poll workers is a nationwide concern. That’s why many state election officials, Democrat and Republican, have urged the public to vote by mail despite President Trump’s dire warning, cited without proof, that mail voting will result in a rigged election.
Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, told USA TODAY that Trump is laying the groundwork “for his supporters to believe that the election is not properly conducted so they rally behind him when or if he challenges the results.”
Trump predicts a surge of mail voting will overwhelm the Postal Service and could even cause a vote-counting delay into next year to determine the winner of the presidential election.
It does take longer to process mail-in votes but Postmaster General Louis DeJoy assured Congress last week that the Postal Service can deliver the nation’s election mail securely and on time.
Election officials fear with so many fewer poll workers, exceptionally lengthy in-person voting lines will discourage some voters, especially the elderly, from casting ballots.
Allegany County officials have mailed applications for absentee ballots to registered voters. They have also provided for eight days of in-person early voting, from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2.
In the last presidential election, more than 30,000 county voters cast ballots, the vast majority in-person at the 37 precinct polling stations.
Republican Donald Trump dominated the results with more than 21,000 votes, a small slice of the statewide 2.2 million vote, which Democrat Hillary Clinton won by a margin of 26 percent.
The Cumberland, Maryland, Times-News contributed details to this story.