Poll Worker Pay Varies by City, Ferndale May Vote to Increase

Poll Worker Pay Varies by City, Ferndale May Vote to Increasewaterwork

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 13, 2014)

Competition from other cities is one of the reasons Ferndale has struggled to attract people to work the polls on Election Day, said City Clerk Cherilynn Brown in a memo to City Council. That’s why Brown and the Election Improvement Committee are recommending that the City raise the rate of pay for those who work at the precincts.

“Since November 2012 we have had three workers we recruited and trained go to work for other communities (Farmington Hills and Oak Park) for the expressed purpose of receiving higher essentialcompensation. Our residents and long-term workers have been loyal so far, but as we continue to recruit from our business community and student population, we could see more difficulty,” Brown wrote.

Ferndale currently pays $125 per day for an election inspector and $150 per day for chairpersons. There is also a $10 stipend for attending training and $10 available to those who take the non-mandatory Electronic Poll Book skills lab. This calculates to $7.81 per hour, which less than the new minimum wage of $8.15 per hour.

The proposed new rates, which are expected to be approved by Ferndale City Council on Monday, are $150 per day for an inspector, $180 per day for chairpersons. The $10 stipends would remain the same.

Berkley, Hazel Park and Pleasant Ridge pay less than Ferndale’s current rate. Berkley pays $120 for the day, Hazel Park pays $100 for the day, and Pleasant Ridge pays $115 for the day.

Royal Oak pays $135 for the day, Birmingham pays $9 per hour which adds up to $144 for the day. Clawson, Huntington Woods and Oak Park all pay $150 per day. The average works out to $133 per day. (For full break down see chart below)

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Councilperson Melanie Piana said she plans on voting yes to the increase. “During the November 2012 election, serving as an election worker,  I experienced first-hand what happens when precincts are short-handed–longer lines.  In response to our residents’ election experiences, our city clerk created an Election Improvement Committee. At that time, one finding was that our election workers were paid average based on a statewide sample. Recently, the state increased minimum wage rates, so an increase in compensation is not only necessary, but also important for us to retain our trained election workers,” Piana said.

“Election day is hard work–long hours and complicated election procedures and laws that our workers have to administer–all designed to ensure a fair election process.  This decision to raise sidebar012stairsrates is an easy one.”

Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs also remembers days of working the polls in Royal Oak before herself venturing into public service, describing the experience as “long days, but satisfying work.”

“It is a right in the United States to be able to vote. It is an obligation and duty of a citizen in the United States to be an informed voter. Poll workers allow us to continue our freedom to vote without fear, without retribution and to make our voice known,” Luebs said.

Those interested in working at the polls in any city, should contact their City Clerk. Information for each City Clerk’s office is available on the city’s website.

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