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Kira Lerner and Indrani Basu write for us today on how amid the pandemic, US poll workers risked their health to handle the election:
On 5 November, two days after election day, an employee in the Onondaga county, New York, Board of Elections office went home early. She felt exhausted, according to election commissioner Dustin Czarny, and assumed the long shifts were to blame.
A week later she was hospitalized, tested for Covid-19, and learned she had contracted the virus. By then, unbeknownst to the other employees, the virus had spread through the office where staff was working long shifts to count absentee ballots before New York’s certification deadline. Roughly 200 employees and volunteers who counted absentee ballots were sent home on 13 November and instructed to get tested. In total, 12 employees tested positive.
“We had almost everybody in the office last week before Friday the 13th,” Czarny said. “Of course this all happened on Friday the 13th.”
Czarny and the other commissioner closed the office and stopped vote counting for the week, informing New York they would miss the 28 November certification deadline. Czarny said the crisis is exactly what he’d hoped to avoid as they administered an election in the middle of a pandemic.
“This is what we were fearing and it happened,” he said.
For local election officials, the 2020 election was guaranteed to be a struggle. Record numbers of voters requested absentee ballots because of the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing election administrators to adapt to an unprecedented election. Officials had to hire additional staff, find warehouses and other locations to store ballots, and acquire protective equipment to ensure that their staff stayed healthy and safe.
Despite their best efforts to stop the virus’s spread, several dozen poll workers and election officials across the country have tested positive for Covid-19, even as the link to election day in most cases is unclear. According to a Votebeat analysis of local reports, there were Covid-19 cases among election workers in at least nine counties in five states before election day, and at least 24 counties in 14 states reported positive cases among election workers in the days and weeks after.
These cases represent only the ones that received media coverage and could be traced to an election operation. The actual number of such cases is likely much higher, given the severity of the virus.
Read more of Kira Lerner and Indrani Basu’s report here: Amid the pandemic, US poll workers risked their health to handle the election
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Biden picks Becerra as health secretary as Covid numbers send California into lockdown – live | US news