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Montgomery County facing shortage of elections staff with high volume of mail-in ballots

Election Director Margaret Jurgensen said solutions may include bringing in county employees from other departments, such as parks, and hiring temporary workers.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County's Election Director admitted that her office is currently “struggling” with a shortage of workers in the face of an expected avalanche of mail-in ballots.

Some people have already sent ballots in. Counting will begin Oct. 6 to try to stay ahead.

Elections Director Margaret Jurgensen made her concerns known Monday during a livestream of testing

“We are struggling, I admit," she said. "But we are bringing on more staff to prepare the voting units." 

Jurgensen said solutions may include bringing in county employees from other departments, such as parks, and hiring temporary workers.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has already received 300,533 requests for mail-in ballots, according to board spokesman Gilberto Zelaya, who said 17,317 completed ballots have been returned thus far. 

The official ballot counting will begin Tuesday after Maryland's State Board of Elections authorized counties to begin counting completed and returned ballots as early as Oct. 1.

RELATED: Maryland election poll workers dropping out due to coronavirus threat


Zelaya urged voters to act as soon as possible.

"It's imperative that each voter develops their vote plan, whether you're voting by mail or in person," he said. "If you got your mail-in ballot,  send it back as soon as possible, because if we identify any issue issues or errors on the part of voters, it gives us time to call them to cure it. But if you're mailing at the last minute, make sure that you at least return it by 8 p.m. at one of our ballot drop boxes on Nov. 3. Don't sit on your ballot, so we can do our job to incorporate it into the canvas.”

Monday's test was done in a live video stream that anyone could click into from the Montgomery County Board of Elections website

According to Zelaya, the plan is to offer a livestream of all the counting as well so that the public can witness all of it and have confidence that the process is fair and transparent.

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