LETTER — Hazard pay should have been given to poll workers

Published 11:22 am Saturday, February 6, 2021

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To the Editor:

I have read the articles and the letter to the editor in your paper concerning the hazard pay the Electoral Board approved for themselves and the interim registrar and his staff.

I was the chairman of the board when this was approved. I received a call Nov. 18 that we were having a meeting on the 25th about hazard pay for the possibility of COVID exposure for the November 3 election.

I mistakenly assumed everyone involved in the election would be included. At the meeting the interim registrar made the proposal that he receive $3,000,  $2,200 for staff that started in August, and $2,000 for staff that started before the election, $1,800 for the former registrar, and $750 each for the three electoral board members.

Immediately after the vote I thought of one of our Officers of Election (OOE) that was undergoing treatment for cancer, and that she and the other OOE were not included. The OOE that was taking treatment was the most vulnerable but several of our officers are in the high risk age groups for COVID exposure. We had given them a raise before the election for hazard pay which amounted to about $72 each.

There was an article in your paper about this in which it was revealed that Mecklenburg paid their OOE $100, and I quickly found out that our OOE read your paper. 

What troubles me is that the ones that, in my opinion, had the least exposure benefited the most. OOE had far more exposure and got only $72 dollars.

This year we had 45 days of early voting (no excuse absentee voting is the official term) and officers of election had direct face-to-face exposure during that time and on Election Day. I think the hazard pay should have been equally divided among the OOE as they were the ones who deserved it the most . 

I do not think Supervisor Kay Pierantoni or any of the supervisors that questioned the electoral board about the hazard pay owes anyone an apology. In fact, I think the ones that received the hazard pay should apologize to our OOE  for allowing them to be left out.

I would also like to thank your paper for the time and space you have dedicated to this issue.

Dean Foster