WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Early voting begins on October 13 and local counties need people to work the polls.

Officials from Wichita County and Clay County said they are gathering people for their list but some workers have declined to work because of the pandemic.

Working voting booths is long hours for poll workers. Booths are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and they have to stay before and after to make sure everything is laid out properly. With COVID-19 adding cleaning measures to the job and potential risk of contracting the virus, some workers are refusing to sign up this year.

“With everything going on, I have had some of them that have told me after the primary that they just wasn’t gonna do it anymore. Some of my workers have said for health reasons they needed to quit,” Wichita County Clerk Lori Bohannon said.

“An elderly lady she said she’s not quite as afraid for herself but she has a husband who’s immune-compromised as well as being older and she’s just afraid to take the chance. And I feel like that may become an issue with some of my older poll workers,” Clay County elections administrator Val McClain.

Because poll workers can drop out or become sick on voting days, county officials must keep a list of alternate workers.

“Right now I’m in the process of trying to hire all my judges and alternate judges for the November election and that’s something we’re always looking for. If anybody’s interested they can always call my office because I run out of names real fast,” McClain said.

“We try to keep a list. We’ve even had a judge get sick on election day. So we’ve had to replace them at the last minute. You never know what could happen,” Bohannon said.

While county officials are preparing for in-person voting, they must also prepare for an increase in mail-in ballots.

“We have a lot of the 65 and older and disabled requesting ballots by mail.”

“Because a lot of people that are elderly that always voted in person now are going ‘maybe I don’t wanna do that’ and are taking advantage of the absentee ballot,” McClain said.

Even though COVID-19 has altered the voting process, county officials are urging people to come serve their community.

“I think a lot of young people given the chance would enjoy it. I hope they step up.”

To find out how to become a poll worker in these counties, contact Bohannon and McClain.