ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — More than 100 residents in the Roanoke and New River Valleys have volunteered to provide in-person Election Day support through the state Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in order to help election officials safely conduct in-person voting amid the pandemic.
Mary Lou Legg, Unit Coordinator of the Near Southwest MRC, says Election Day plans have been underway since the spring.
“The Governor’s Office activated the MRC to assist with this year’s elections starting with spring primary voting, and our training and recruitment has continued through the fall,” said Legg.
Officials say 52 localities across the Commonwealth have asked for MRC assistance at 1,030 polling sites on Nov 3. In addition, the MRC reportedly expects to provide more than 1,000 trained volunteers — courtesy of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Deputy Director of Elections — across Virginia to assist with the general election.
Locally, approximately 50 MRC volunteers will staff polling places in three-hour shifts in the Roanoke Valley. In the New River Valley, 57 volunteers will assist in four jurisdictions.
Volunteers’ duties include encouraging the use of masks and hand sanitizer as well as helping staff and voters maintain proper social distancing.
They are also trained to spot opportunities to reduce transmission of germs, such as keeping doors propped open to minimize the number of surfaces voters touch to safely enter and exit the polling place.
“I understand there is some degree of personal risk involved but the need to have safe elections outweighs my concerns,” said Lee. “We volunteers are provided with personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, but I already have my own. I’m ready to serve.”Tiffany Lee. MRC Volunteer
Tiffany Lee, a Roanoke resident, will work at a Northeast Roanoke polling place as an MRC volunteer. Lee, a college professor and Latin teacher, served at a primary polling place in Salem earlier this year.
The number of volunteers helping the jurisdictions that requested MRC assistance is listed below:
- Montgomery County: 44
- Roanoke City: 27
- Roanoke County: 11
- Giles County: 9
- Salem: 9
- Floyd County: 3
- Pulaski County: 1
According to the CDC, some tips for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- Make a plan by visiting the Virginia Department of Elections website for more information on voting options.
- Wear a cloth face covering or a mask at all times while voting.
- Exercise proper social distancing by maintaining at least six feet of separation from other voters and poll workers. For people not wearing cloth face coverings, consider staying more than six feet away.
- Practice good hygiene. For example, do not use physical greetings, such as handshakes; clean your hands by either washing for 20 seconds with soap and water or by using hand sanitizer before and after voting; and avoid touching your face or your face covering.
For more voter safety information from the CDC, click here.
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