Knox County Administrator of Elections Clifford Rodgers is seeking more money for his Election Day workers.
"We only get 1 percent of the budget, and what we do and what is expected of us – with very little room for error – we don't get a lot of Knox County's budget," he told the Knox County Commission during its monthly luncheon on Monday. "At some point we need to treat the other Knox County citizens – and that's who is working these polls – fairly."
His office currently pays poll workers $125 to work on Election Day, and officers, who oversee the precincts, get $150 per day. In addition, those who drive the ballot information and voting results to the main downtown office receive another $10.
Rodgers said he will use 75 officers and 450 workers to staff the 75 precincts for the May primaries. Each precinct, he said, needs three poll workers and one officer.
He wants to bump officer pay to $175 to $180 a day and bump pay for the poll workers to $135.
Commissioners on Monday appeared ready to give him the extra money, but want to talk more about it. If approved, it would cost a combined $13,500 to cover everyone.
Rodgers said that poll workers in Sullivan County earn $140 and officers get $170.
In Davidson County, workers get $120 and officers get $220.
In Hamilton County, workers get $100 and officers get $160.
The poll workers show up only for Election Day, but the officers need to oversee the prep work the day before the county holds elections. That means picking up supplies, making sure everyone will be where they need to be and working with the custodians to open the buildings on time.
They are not paid for that work.
On Election Day, the employees work 15 to 16 hours and kick off the day around 7 a.m., Rodgers said.
"I've been here three years, and I'm not sure how long we've been paying the amount we pay, but no one in the office can remember otherwise," Rodgers said. "I at least owed it to my people to come down and ask (for the raises)."