Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poll workers in Pennsylvania are underpaid

Every year, my county elections board puts out a desperate call for workers to supervise polling sites. Now I know why they have such a hard time. These people barely earn minimum wage. Polls are open at 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. but workers often have to report by 6 a.m. and stay after polls close at 8 p.m. until all their paperwork is finished.

Pennsylvania appears to be one of the stingiest states in paying poll workers, who check for proper voter registration, set up and monitor voting machines and watch over polling sites during elections.

Here's a letter published in today's edition of The Mercury from veteran poll workers that explains the problem:
Poll workers deserve a raise

Open letter to Joseph Passarella, Montgomery County Election Board:

This letter is being written in hopes that all poll workers in Montgomery County are given an increase in compensation paid to them for their long hours of faithful and dedicated service to the county.

It is an insult and direct slap in the face of our poll workers when you consider that Cape May, N.J. pays their poll workers $200 a day and has lunch and dinner delivered to them. They have a long waiting list of people wanting to work, while we have difficulty getting people to work at our polls.

The judge of elections there is also paid substantially more than the $120 paid to our judges. Our judge puts in 15 hours the day of election plus time spent getting the box, the key from the township building, plus time taking the box back to the New Hanover Township Building after the polls close. This adds up to 2 hours and 41 miles.

Poll workers are paid $6 an hour, and even less if they attend the training class for all new poll workers at the warehouse in Norristown which is 21 miles each way and 3.5 hours spent away from home.

This greatly reflects the value the candidates put on the many people who have put in all these hours to correctly report the results to the board of elections.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as it is extremely difficult for us to find people who are willing to work for this kind of pay.

When was the last time the poll workers received an increase?

Judge of Elections, Lower Pottsgrove #4
Poll Worker, Clerk

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