‘They’re the backbone.’ Nearly 1,000 Horry County poll workers adjusting to pandemic restrictions at the polls

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 5:56 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The coronavirus pandemic is not only impacting voters, but also those who are helping to protect residents' votes.

Poll workers across South Carolina are dealing with record voter turnout on top of trying to stay healthy and safe.

Horry County Voter Registration and Elections Director Sandy Martin said the poll workers are excited to serve their community, despite the pandemic.

Martin said Horry County has about 1,000 poll workers total to work election day, working at about 122 precincts. She’s confident about her team conquering any difficulties that arise during the voting process.

Martin said working during a pandemic has been tough on the poll workers, because they have to focus on assisting voters while also keeping themselves safe form the virus threat.

'The poll workers are the backbone and if there weren’t poll workers there wouldn’t be an election," Martin said. “We’ve already voted more than 85,000 people.”

She said workers have been provided ample amounts of personal protective equipment including masks, gloves and Q-tips.

Martin said she wants people to remember poll workers are adjusting to the new process and asks voters to practice their patience at the polls.

“When people have to wait at line, tempers start flaring,” Martin said. " You need to consider the poll worker as well. They’ve been there since 6 a.m. They’re working for the voters. The voters need to be courteous to the poll workers as well as the poll workers being courteous to the voters."

The League of Women Voters of Horry County is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging people to know their rights when voting. Member Pat Shama said showing up to the correct polling location is one way to keep the voting process moving smoother for both the poll worker and the voters they’re trying to assist.

“People are so frustrated if they get to a [polling] place that’s been changed or if they moved and forgot to update their address,” Shama said. “The poll workers are working all day. Please be patient. Make sure you ask any questions you have but make sure you give them a chance to help you.”

“Our poll workers, they’ve done this numerous times,” Martin said. “They know how to deal with every situation that comes up; they do it to the best of their ability. Every situation is different for each election.”

Both the League of Women voters and the elections office recommend voters visit sc.votes.gov to confirm their polling location.

The League of Women Voters and the Elections Office offered additional advice below for voters on Election Day:

  • One you print out your ballot card, check to make sure all the candidates you voted for are recorded. The Elections Office says you must notify and request a second ballot from the poll worker before the original ballot is scanned.
  • The League of Women Voters recommends asking anyone if they need assistance getting to the polls, and help provide them transportation to the polls.
  • On Election Day, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., but as long as you’re in line before 7 p.m., you will be able to vote.
  • The League of Women Voters is encouraging all voters to be patient and not leave the polls until your vote is cast.
  • Curbside voting is also available for voters with a physical handicap or aged 65 or older who cannot enter the polling place.

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