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Groups Urge State Employees To Work at Polls

Tim Craig

Leaders of three national groups sent a letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), urging him to assign all "non-essential public employees" to work at the polls on Election Day.

"Adequate staffing can mean the difference between a demonstrably fair election, or questions and challenges about the validity of the results,'' they said in a letter signed by leaders of Change to Win, a coalition of unions, People for the American Way, a progressive advocacy group, and the Sierra Club.

Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the governor was not assigning state workers to the polls, but has "encouraged those who can take the day off to volunteer at the polls."

Elections officials across the state are reporting long lines this week for those who want to vote by absentee ballot. Voters were waiting two hours this morning to vote today at Richmond City Hall. Lines are expected to worsen tomorrow, the last day of absentee voting, and on Tuesday.

Later today, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) will issue a statement urging companies to be lenient with employees who are late to work on Election Day because of the long lines at the polls.

By Tim Craig  |  October 31, 2008; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Isn't this a little late to be calling for more volunteers? Where were these groups two months ago when the counties were recruiting volunteers? Where were these groups even three weeks ago when the counties were beginning to train their poll workers? You can't just throw a state worker into a polling station without any training. Working a polling station is not rocket science, but it does take some training and coordination.

This sounds more like an effort to discredit the election process - we called for volunteers, the governor didn't do anything - than a sincere effort to make the process work better. Public gestures like this are not helpful.

Posted by: chrisduckworth | October 31, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

These groups are fostering the myth that the Commonwealth of Virginia has a vast army of "non-essential public employees." That is an insult to the many employees who dedicate their lives to public service at a pay rate lower than they would get in the private sector. Much lower. The Virginia work force has been stretched to the breaking point by politicians who solve every economic problem by firing some more state employees. Most of us are doing the work of 2-3 people and putting in 60-70 hour weeks with no extra pay just to keep up with our workload.

Finally, a teeny little research by Ms. Kumar would have found that the governor has already called upon the state employees and their supervisors to allow them to volunteer at polling places. He urged us to take leave under the policy
The letter included instructions, contact information and a list of training sessions.

Posted by: thuff7 | November 2, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

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