Colleen O’Dea | February 11, 2020 | NJ Spotlight |
New Jersey’s poll workers, those folks who sign in voters and usher them into voting machines on Election Day, would get their first pay increase in nearly two decades under a bill that cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday.
The $75 boost in pay would take the tens of thousands of poll workers statewide to $275 per day for what is a very long day — at least 15 hours, starting at about 5:15 a.m. County election administrators say it has become increasingly difficult to recruit enough people to work a long day twice a year for the same $200 they’ve been earning since 2001. The result: Many polling places aren’t staffed as required by law. And with a presidential election this year expected to draw a high turnout, sites will need to be well-staffed.
The bill enacting the pay increase (S-598) unanimously cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee even though it is estimated that it will cost the state $5 million to implement.
Sen. James Beach (D-Camden), bill sponsor and committee chair, said the increase is crucial to ensure that the state’s elections, which are the backbone of democracy, run smoothly.
“I realize the training that is required and the long hours you put in,” Beach said addressing one of more than a dozen poll workers from across the state who testified in favor of the pay raise. “Recruiting high-quality people to do your job is so important to the whole process of voting.”
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