State lawmakers looking into pay for poll workers

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD/WBTW) – State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would create a committee to study poll worker pay and benefits. Workers, voting officials said, are the backbone of election day.

The proposed legislation said dedicated poll workers are crucial to ensuring public confidence in elections.

“We always tell our poll workers at training we couldn’t hold an election without them. They’re the first people that the voters see so compensating them accurately will go a long way,” said Horry County Elections Director, Sandy Martin.

The bill said if the state wants to attract those people they need fair compensation.

“Poll workers are paid $75 dollars for working a little over 12 hours a day which equals a little over 6 dollars an hour. It’s a long day for a little bit of money,” said Martin.

Lawmakers want to study pay for poll managers and poll manager assistants. Martin said poll managers make 75 dollars for the day, plus 60 dollars for training, and if you are a clerk you receive an additional 60 dollars.

The Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration pays their poll managers $60 for training and $75 for working on Election Day. Most of the time, that is a total of $135.

Lawmakers want to compare South Carolina’s poll worker pay to other states particularly those in the southeast to see where we stack up. A study Martin said is long overdue.

“It’s been needed for years. The poll worker pay has gone up some over the years, but not drastically. It would help morale. They would like to know they’re appreciated too,” said Martin.

There’s another thing martin thinks is keeping poll workers away, and hopes lawmakers could change that too.

“If you make a certain amount you have to pay taxes on it, and that’s something that came up in the last few years that we really wish that they would take away because it deters a lot of people from working,” said Martin.

The committee would consist of seven appointed members, and if passed they’d have to give recommendations to the general assembly by January 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, Martin said they expect major voter turnout in November and will have to hire more workers.

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