People who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 are likely to be working polling stations on Election Day, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC surveyed poll workers during the September primary in Delaware and found that about 32% had an underlying medical condition. Twenty-seven percent had two or more underlying medical conditions.
Type 2 diabetes and severe obesity are conditions that the CDC has identified as putting people at increased risk of getting ill from the coronavirus. Conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, asthma, and hypertension may increase the risk as well.
The survey found that 8.9% of polls workers were diabetic, 23% were obese, 10.9% had asthma, and 32% suffered from hypertension.
Most polling stations, though, appeared to be practicing mitigation strategies. Over 87% reported that their polling station placed voting booths at least 6 feet apart and had markings or decals on the floor indicating 6 feet of spacing. Additionally, 87% reported that the polling station provided face masks, and 93% provided hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.
Only 4% of polling workers reported contact with a sick voter.
The pandemic nearly derailed the April presidential primary in Wisconsin. Concerned about voters and polling workers transmitting the virus, Gov. Tony Evers tried to delay in-person voting until June. Republicans filed a lawsuit challenging the action, and the Monday before the election, the state Supreme Court ruled that the governor did not have the authority to delay the election.
A federal court also ruled that absentee voting could be extended past the April 7 primary date. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the lower court.
Thus far, there have been no reported coronavirus outbreaks related to polling stations.