BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s Board of Elections is asking the public for help as officials say the city is struggling to recruit election judges ahead of the July 19 primary.

Armstead Jones, the city’s election director, said the panel has trained fewer than 900 judges for the upcoming primary election, which is well short of the number of judges needed.

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“We are short maybe 1,300 judges in order to staff all of the precincts that will be open on that day,” said Jones, who attributed the shortfall to a wide range of factors.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic, summer vacation season and the age of judges, most of whom are seniors, are all playing a role in the election judge shortage.

“It’s very important that we have individuals to staff the polling places in order for the voting to occur,” Jones said. “They assist the voters as they come into the precinct, they register them, sign them up by looking up their names in the poll book.”

The shortage is already forcing the city to scale back the number of polling locations.

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Jones is concerned that if more judges don’t sign up, some of the remaining precincts might not be able to open on time, making it more difficult for Baltimoreans to cast their votes.

“It’s very important that the citizens of Baltimore help us out at this particular time,” he said in an appeal to prospective volunteers. “We need you. We can’t do this without you.”

Jones said training sessions for would-be judges are ongoing and underway right now.

Volunteers will be paid $200 for regular judge duties, while chief judges will be paid $275 a day for working at the polls.

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To learn more or to apply to become an election judge, visit the Board of Elections’ website.