Pandemic Forces Philadelphia Elections Officials To Consolidate Polling Sites By 75% For Primary
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The new primary elections date caused by the pandemic is fast approaching. So far, Pennsylvania officials say nearly 1 million voters have applied for a mail-in ballot.
There's no playbook for elections during a pandemic. Here in Philly, you want to make sure you're paying attention to all the changes.
It takes each voter an average of three minutes, according to the Philadelphia Election Board.
"Every effort was made to keep contested races together," an official said.
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On Wednesday morning, city commissioners announced a massive consolidation of polling sites, down to only 190 -- over 75% reduction due to COVID-19.
They're introducing a new concept, called zones, by grouping divisions into consolidated sites. Geography, population concerns and SEPTA availability were also considered.
"The ability to hold that election must come first. The shortages of polling places and poll workers necessitates that we must take action to stand up an election," said Lisa Marie Deeley, chair of Philadelphia elections.
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There's a lot of concern and anxiety surrounding the pandemic. The majority of poll workers are elderly volunteers and many have said due to heightened risk, they are unavailable.
To incentivize people to come out to work, commissioners approved $200 pay and $50 for training.
Additionally, they're l0oking for assistance from the National Guard.
"I think that the trade-off is that you have to respect those men and women in the National Guard for serving their country and serving the community. If it ends up with a smoothly run Election Day, then I think it's well worth it," said David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy.
You have until May 26 to request a mail-in or absentee ballot. For a list of polling places by zone, click here.
Pennsylvania's election is scheduled for June 2, while New Jersey and Delaware will hold theirs on July 7.
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