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County asked to increase poll workers' wages

August 31, 2000

County asked to increase poll workers' wages



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - The Berkeley County Commission Thursday heard a plea from Jerry Mays, chairman of the Berkeley County Republican Committee, to increase the pay of workers who staff polls on election day.

"The 14-hour days they put in warrant something more than minimum pay," Mays told the commissioners. "If we paid more, we might get more people."

The issue is part of an ongoing discussion among the commissioners about changing election practices. They have come under attack following a recent election for Circuit Court judge that has landed in court with one of the candidates charging numerous election irregularities occurred in May.

Among those issues is the handling of the ballots at the poll stations. Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart has said the $75 pay for poll workers doesn't appear to be enough to provide enough workers. Mays said the poll workers are not to blame for problems at the last election.

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"The vast majority (of poll workers) are dedicated and hard working and know what their duties are," said Mays, who urged the daily rate be increased to $125.

He also suggested training sessions for poll workers include "role playing" to show them exactly how to handle specific situations to avoid problems.

Burkhart said he favors an increase. County Democrats also endorsed the idea at a recent meeting, he said.

An increase would not come without a cost and "we may have to ease into it gradually," Burkhart said.

The commissioners today will begin counting the unused ballots from the election - those that were sent to the polls but not used. Some precincts had difficulty reconciling the number of ballots cast with the number marked on sheets used to keep track of them.

The commissioners will start counting the ballots at 10 a.m. They will work all day, then resume counting Tuesday morning and hope to finish by Wednesday or Thursday.

They are supposed to provide the numbers to a judge who will hear arguments about the legality of the contest for Circuit Court judge between David Camilletti and Gray Silver III, on Sept. 13.

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