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County Council Poll workers to be paid double for November 2018 election work

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By LILY REX

The Porter County Council last night approved $65,000 in transfers that will allow poll workers to be paid double the normal rates for the 2018 general election.

The Council’s decision follows a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning where the Commissioners unanimously approved doubling pay for poll workers in the wake of an election that prompted the Commissioners to call in the FBI, Indiana State Police, and Indiana Secretary of State’s office to investigate allegations of violations of election law after a three-day delay in results. The election also prompted a bevy of complaints from poll workers who were asked to do the work of multiple people and worked a 20-hour day on Nov. 6.

The Council voted unanimously to double the pay this year for poll workers from $135 to $270 for inspectors and from $110 to $220 for clerks and judges.

Councilwoman Sylvia Graham, D-At-large, abstained from the vote because she was a judge in this year’s election.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik also announced that her office has been able to process the paperwork for most of the poll workers, who will be paid next Friday--not only earlier than usual, but the first day they could have been paid based on the County’s payroll schedule.

“We have about 50 people we don’t have the payroll forms for. The Clerk’s office hasn’t provided that,” Urbanik said.

Those workers, Urbanik said, may need to fill-out and submit new payroll forms. Urbanik said she will continue trying to get the forms from the Clerk’s office, but she will mail out new forms if she has to in order to make sure those workers are paid on the next County payday after Dec. 7.

Outgoing Councilwoman Karen Conover, R-3rd, commended Urbanik and her staff for fast-tracking the pay.

“It certainly needed to be raised,” said Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-large.

Councilman Mike Jessen, R-4th, confirmed the new rates are only retroactive to poll workers in this year’s general election, but Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, said from the audience that the Board of Commissioners plans to collaborate with the Council and Urbanik to permanently raise poll worker pay.

A permanent raise is what Bill Perry, a Portage resident and inspector in this year’s election wants to see.

Perry spoke during the public comment period to expand on a letter he sent to the Council.

Perry said he, like many others, worked a 20-hour day on Nov. 6 and was asked to do more than one job. Perry’s assignment was to be the inspector for precinct 19, but when he arrived he was asked to cover precinct 31 as well.

“I don’t think its fair to have people do double, triple, and quadruple duty and then not pay them for it,” Perry said, adding that his interpretation of Indiana law is that it provides for poll workers to be paid for more than one position.

Perry also had a strong opinion on how Clerk Karen Martin handled the election.

“This is not an issue of Democrat or Republican, it’s an issue of somebody who forgot that the definition of an elected official is to be a public servant and serve the people you are elected by. If you think you’re a king or some sort of lord, you’ve forgotten what you’re supposed to be and you need to leave office, period.”

Perry proposed that the pay for poll workers should be a minimum of $400 per person.

“Passing the increase is a Band-Aid over a bullet hole because everybody I’ve talked to is saying ‘I’m never doing this again,’” Perry added.

 

 

Posted 11/28/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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