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Superior council to consider pay for election inspectors

Currently, hourly wages could exceed what some inspectors earn for administering absentee ballots at care facilities, officials said.

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Election worker Bud Brand helps a voter get her ballot at Northwood Technical College during the February 2020 primary in Superior.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Superior’s Finance Committee adopted changes to election inspectors' compensation Thursday, June 9, to ensure those who oversee voting in the city are adequately compensated for their time, officials said.

City clerk Camila Ramos recommended the changes after a large care facility in Superior, New Perspective, was converted for absentee voting, requiring deputy election officials to administer absentee ballots for residents.

The two deputies who administered at New Perspective put in more time there than is traditionally required because of the number of residents, Ramos said.

Under the current ordinance, the deputies who serve care facilities are allowed $30 for the time they spend administering absentee ballots at each facility.

However, election officials are paid $11.92 per hour, making it beneficial to set $30 as a minimum deputies would be paid for their service at care facilities, Ramos said. The city had to do a make-good payroll for election workers who would have been paid more at the hourly rate.

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“The amount that they earned at the hourly rate was more than the code said they should be receiving,” Ramos said. Election workers are not compensated for their mileage to travel to the care facilities. Ramos said she believes that’s why deputies who serve care facilities were paid a set amount.

Councilor Jack Sweeney asked if there should be an adjustment in the hourly rate election inspectors are paid, noting the city recently raised wages for crossing guards.

Ramos said local election inspectors are paid comparably to those in other communities and are usually surprised to learn they are compensated.

The committee approved setting the minimum rate at $30 for the election inspectors who serve care facilities and added a minimum payment of $30 per day for the chief election inspector for assistance provided to streamline polling location procedures.

“We’re in the process of streamlining our election day processes,” Ramos said. “This last election, I had the chief spend some time with me in the office creating these file boxes that organized all the documentation.”

Ramos said there were days both came in at 7 a.m. and it wasn’t fair not to compensate the chief election inspector for what was essentially consultant work.

The proposed ordinance change also clarifies that election inspectors who are eligible for a $10 per diem are those who work a double shift on election day. A double shift starts before the polls open at 7 a.m. and ends after the polls close at 8 p.m.

The council will consider the changes when it meets June 21.

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Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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