In An Election Year During A Pandemic, Senior Poll Workers Pass The Baton

Mary Whitney sits for a portrait in her living room in Milton, Mass., on Oct. 31, 2020. Whitney has been a poll worker for years, but decided to sit November’s election out because of her fear of catching the coronavirus. (Meredith Nierman/GBH News)

After more than 35 years of helping voters through elections, 82-year-old Mary Whitney of Milton was finding the long days as a poll worker tiring. Even so, she was determined to serve through this year’s presidential election.

But after working the recent primary in Massachusetts, Whitney came to a decision.

“I didn’t feel safe. That was the thing at the end of the night, I said, you know, I didn’t feel safe here,” Whitney said.

Across the country, poll workers are mostly older Americans. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Election Administration and Voting Survey, for the 2016 presidential election, more than half the poll workers surveyed were 61 or older. And the pandemic has forced thousands in that group to make the same decision this election year as Whitney; COVID-19 made the work too risky.

Read the rest of the story at GBH’s website.