Credit: (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
November 3, 2020: Polls assist voters on election day.

New Jersey election workers were finally able to get a steady increase in wages thanks to a bill that gives them a daily stipend of $ 300 for most of the elections scheduled for voting in the Assembly on Thursday.

Pollsters received $ 300 for the general election last fall, but only after Gov. Phil Murphy signed an ordinance that would temporarily increase wages by $ 100 a day. Lawmakers have tried several times, including during the recent post-election session, to introduce a steady increase in wages, but the Senate has failed to pass the bill.

This time the measure could pass. So far, members of both parties have voted for it in the commissions. And Murphy has included $ 7 million in his budget proposal to raise wages.

“We support this bill because it should help recruit voters and will not cost the counties any extra money,” said John Donadio, executive director of the New Jersey County Association.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee unanimously decided on Monday C-1290that will give voters the first steady pay rise in 21 years. Most workers would receive $ 300 a day. Electoral workers who have not completed the training course and now receive $ 50 a day will receive the state’s minimum hourly wage, which is currently $ 13. Those running for the remaining few school board elections that did not take place in November will receive at least a minimum wage of $ 21.43 per hour, or $ 300 per day.

The counties currently cover $ 75 in each voter’s salary and will continue to do so, with the state’s share increasing from $ 125 to $ 225 per day. The bill will also give counties, some of which have had problems recruiting in recent years, the opportunity to pay voters more than $ 300 a day, but the county will pay additional costs.

What would it cost the state

The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services believes that the implementation of the bill will cost the state a little more than it anticipates. The bill will give the state election department an additional $ 7 million to reimburse the county, while the OLS will put an additional $ 7.74 million in costs.

Over the past year, voter pay has been matched by the need to fill the tens of thousands of seats needed for personal voting, which is now also available before election day, and for counting ballots by mail.

Legislation to raise voters’ salaries to $ 275 a day began shortly before the pandemic hit in March 2020, and lawmakers acknowledged that it was becoming increasingly difficult to attract people to polling station staff for 15 hours for $ 200 a day. But the bill came to a halt as lawmakers focused on more pressing issues at the time and, first, elections were held entirely or mostly using ballot papers by mail.

Last spring, when all polling stations were open for more than a year and many people demanded to vote in person, district officials warned of a critical shortage of jobs. Many workers are older, and some were afraid of catching COVID-19, while others complained about having to wear a mask for so many hours. At 11 a.m., lawmakers and Murphy agreed to a bill that would double workers ’pay to $ 400 a day, but only for this primary.

The Senate passed a measure that increased voter pay to $ 400 before being cut last summer, but the Assembly was already closed and did not convene before the election. Murphy came in last October and signed order to increase the remuneration of interviewed employeesbut only up to $ 300 a day and only for last year’s general election.

Elections of school boards

For higher wages to take effect ahead of the April 19 school board elections in about 13 state counties, lawmakers are quick to pass bills and send them to Murphy’s table. The Assembly is due to consider the measure on Thursday. The Senate could quickly follow him.

Murphy has already included a provision to increase voter pay in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. This would be more than offset by the expected $ 25 million cut in the election department’s budget for the start-up costs of early personal voting last fall.

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