Louisiana Secretary of State Wants Pay Bump for Election Workers

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin plans to ask legislators for pay raises for staff and temporary poll workers, who he said are dealing with an increasing workload as early voting grows more popular.

Ardoin, whose office runs the state’s elections, did not mention how much the changes might cost. Any legislation that could affect state finances would require the legislature’s fiscal office to estimate the impact.

“The timing is probably the best it’s been in quite some time to try to address this issue, especially dealing with the shortage [of commissioners] that we’re facing,” Ardoin said at this week’s meeting of the State Board of Election Supervisors.

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According to Brian Champagne, registrar of voters for St. James Parish, temporary early voting commissioners in 2007 were paid the same $200 per day as those that worked on election day. But pay for early voting commissioners was slashed to $100.

As more people vote early, the commissioners, many of whom are elderly, are working longer hours. Officials hope bumping pay to $150 would attract more early voting commissioners.

The board endorsed the concept, which Ardoin said he will take up with lawmakers. He also is asking for more money in his budget for overtime pay for his staff during early voting and election day.

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Ardoin also plans to call for legislation that would allow elections officials to verify the validity of early voting ballots on the Friday before a Saturday election day. The actual votes still would not be counted until election day.

Ardoin said candidates and the general public often expect to see early voting totals right after the polls close at 8 p.m. Feeling pressured to rush through the process can lead to mistakes, he said; the change would allow workers to get some of the work done ahead of time.

“We want to be accurate,” he said. “We don’t want to be Speedy Gonzales, because speed can create problems.”

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The board endorsed more than 30 changes to the state’s election code, most of which are minor tweaks and will be handled in a single omnibus bill.

One proposal expected to be in a standalone bill would allow clerks of court to summon law enforcement officers on election day “to preserve order, enforce the election laws or protect election officials from interference with the performance of their duties.”

Commissioners already have this authority. Under current law, law enforcement officers are not to enter polling places on election day except to vote or assist the commissioners.


By David Jacobs of the Center Square


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