WAYNE, NJ – At this week’s Wayne Town Council meeting, Councilman Franco Mazzei addressed an ongoing issue with the lack of poll workers during the past election and concerns about this year’s election.
“I just want to talk briefly about our resolution to support bill A-5726 which is currently before the New Jersey Assembly and is sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Rooney,” said Mazzei.
“The bill seeks to increase the wages of poll workers from $200 to $300. Specifically, how this would relate to Wayne,” said Mazzei who went on to briefly thank the Clerk’s office for providing the statistics he would quote: “We have forty-one election districts in Wayne, and they strive to have at least four poll workers at each district. Which, in Wayne, would amount to one-hundred and sixty-four poll workers.”
“In 2018, we had one-hundred and eleven workers. In 2019, we had one-hundred and five. Well below the target of one-hundred and sixty-four,” continued Mazzei. “With these numbers lowering, it makes it very difficult for the Township to run these elections. The poll workers are working very long days, sometimes sixteen hours on election day. What I believe the Assemblyman is striving to do is to attract more individuals to come out for the position and increase those numbers for the poll workers. Having looked at the resolution that looks to support the Assembly bill of the $300, $225 would be paid by the state of New Jersey and $75 to be paid by the County. Now, as taxpayers that still affects us all, but that’s how it would be broken down if approved. So, I will be supporting this resolution.”
Councilman Joe Schweighardt was opposed to the bill.
“I appreciate the math explanation as to where the money is going to come from, although ultimately it comes from the taxpayers,” said Schweighardt. “I’ve had difficulty over the last few years as to how poll workers are selected. Going back a number of years, this community was responsible for getting its poll workers, and perhaps while it was additional work on the part of the clerk’s office, for the most part, these were familiar people with familiar faces who were at the polls. Now that’s all changed.”
As I understand it, the county handles the process. That’s the part I find to be rather difficult,” he continued. “I also find some difficulty in increasing from $200 to $300. That’s a fifty per cent increase.”
Schweighardt’s explanation as to why he opposed the bill seemed to meander.
“I wasn’t sure if we are having difficulty in getting poll workers or not, but it just seemed excessive to me,” said Schweighardt. “But the main part that I dislike is that we do not pick our poll workers. I wonder if the poll workers are in most of our schools for election day and the kids are in school, do they go criminal investigation checks? I would suggest not. I know that was a problem years ago in respect to employees hired by the Board of Education, but that seems to have been resolved. I just have difficulty with the whole process. The county should not be a part of it, the municipality should be selecting the people. Obviously, as an aside, that’s a political perk. I’m sure the people who get the jobs for the most part are people who are connected or connected to someone who is connected. So, it’s a difficult process and I’m not going to support it for all of the above.”
The 2020 election cycle should prove to be a busy one given the US President, all US House of Representatives seats and Corey Booker’s Senate Seat will be on the ballot.