Panel Approves Kean/Corrado Bill to Address Shortage of Election Poll Workers
Measure Would Exempt Wages from Affecting Unemployment Compensation
Poll workers are essential to the in-person voting that exemplifies the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans, and legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senator Kristin Corrado would help ensure an adequate supply of election-day help.
The bill, S-3054, approved by the Senate Labor Committee today, would exempt the wages earned by poll workers from affecting an individual’s unemployment compensation.
“We don’t want potential workers to be concerned that a one-time check for working from sun-up to sun-down at the polling place will impact their unemployment benefits,” said Kean (R-21). “Due to COVID, a significant number of New Jerseyans remain unemployed, and we’re not likely to see a full job recovery until the pandemic is under control. Reliable people who lost their jobs can help fill the void as poll workers without risking benefits under this bill.”
Poll workers commit to a 15-hour workday, from before the polls open at 6 a.m. until well after they close at 8 p.m. As compensation, they receive $200, the same rate since 2001.
Counties often struggle to find candidates for election-day duties. Earlier this year, legislation was introduced to raise their pay and as well as to address the shortage by lowering the minimum age below 18.
“Counting these wages against unemployment benefits could discourage individuals from working the polls,” said Corrado. “It will be easier to find willing workers if we can ensure them they won’t have to jump through hoops to protect their unemployment. We want election workers who are dedicated and committed, not preoccupied with how a check from the county board of elections will affect them.”