HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- With less than a week to go until the September 1 state primary, the group MassVote is issuing an urgent call for poll workers.

The non-profit said concerns over COVID-19 are, in part, making it a tough sell to fill positions needed in voting locations all across the state.

We talked to Holyoke City Clerk and Registrar Brenna McGree and while she said they still need more people to man the polls, what's unprecedented is the number of mail-in ballots requested.

A steady flow of people took advantage of early voting at city hall in Holyoke, which wraps up Friday.

McGee told Western Mass News that this has been a popular option.

If residents plan to come to the polls for the state primary on Tuesday, she could use some help.

“We did just have, within the last hour, three poll workers call and say they would rather not be scheduled, so we are looking through some of the newer applications that we have received,” McGee noted.

Poll workers get paid $75 for a shift on election day, but McGee said that is not the concern.

“We definitely, as the election grows closer, we do have folks calling in, concerned whether it be their age or some pre-existing health conditions that they have and are a little bit nervous. Some straight out say that they don’t want to work,” McGee added.

The non-profit, non-partisan MassVote, whose mission is to increase voter participation, said cities and towns across the state are in need of hundreds of poll workers. Most of whom traditionally are staffed by seniors who are opting out this fall over concerns of COVID-19.

McGee doesn't believe Election Day will be as crowded at the polls Tuesday, or in November, judging by the shear, unprecedented number of residents who've requested mail-in ballots.

“We mailed out more ballots to people that requested them then people that voted in-person in the last state primary, so right now, our numbers are higher of people that already voted then those who voted in the state primary two years ago,” McGee noted.

She believes that it’s due, in part, to all the options voters now have: mail-in, early voting, and a secured drop box.

“We do have a drop box out in the back parking lot. People have been using it a lot since it’s been installed out there. We do check it multiple times a day - before we leave, first thing in the morning, so anything that’s put in there is securely locked upstairs,” McGee said.

Anyone interested in helping out at the polls can contact their local registrar of voters or clerk.

As for the dropboxes in cities and towns across the state, the deadline to drop your ballot in for Tuesday's primary is no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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