Election Board workers isolate with COVID-19

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

Eight of 19 full-time workers at the Jackson County Election Board have been in quarantine since they tested positive for COVID-19, along with 22 part-time workers – all of whom worked at locations on the Independence Square.

Election Board co-directors Tammy Brown and Corey Dillon said all of the workers had been at the Election Board’s main office or absentee office on Liberty Street, or at the drive-thru voting location set up in the last few days for voters who had recently entered quarantine – not at any polling locations elsewhere.

The first few cases popped up less than three weeks ago, Brown said, and those workers had not worked since. 

“Once they got sick they were done,” she said.

More confirmed cases arose as workers handled the deluge of absentee and mailed-in votes in the last several days of voting and had to cover for absent colleagues. Drive-thru workers wore gowns, masks and gloves as they encountered voters.  Brown said there is no apparent single source for how workers got infected.

“Just everywhere, the main office, the behind the Plexiglas at the absentee office, the drive-thru; we all worked different spots,” Brown said. “I worked in the drive-thru once, and I tested negative.”

Two of the part-time workers have been hospitalized, Brown said.

Despite workers being out, the Election Board remains on track to have results certified next week, Brown said. There will likely have to be a recount in the race between incumbent Robert Sauls and Vicki Riley for the 21st District seat in the Missouri House of Representative. Sauls held a 25-vote lead over Riley after the unofficial results on election night. Results from 13 precincts in Independence will have to be recounted for that race.

“We’ve been plugging away here,” Brown said.