Primary day poll workers in Philly got paid early this year

Using electronic poll book data, the city has been able to cut about a month off the time that it takes to pay Election Day workers.

Poll workers

Poll workers (from left) Eden Kainer and Lorraine Wilson use new electronic poll books at St. Andrew Church in Fairmount. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Hundreds of poll workers in Philadelphia will see their paychecks sooner this year thanks to a streamlining of the payroll process.

City Controller Christy Brady worked with city commissioners to use data collected by electronic poll books to overcome the checking and correcting caused by the handwritten slips that have delayed payments after past city elections.

It had taken up to two months to pay workers in the 1,703 divisions in the city. That caused hardships that resulted in some people not thinking the job was worth it and quitting, hurting the city’s efforts to recruit enough workers.

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“This streamlined system allowed the city to process 7,700 checks totaling $1.8 million two weeks after the primary election,” Brady said. “We are proud to say these workers will be receiving their checks in the mail very soon.”

The quick processing is a major feat for workers who are only city employees for two or three days a year. Omar Sabir, head of the city commissioners, said with an average age of 65 years old, some poll workers urgently need the funds.

“You can make up to $295, and for some folks on a fixed income that can pay bills,” Sabir said.

Commissioner Lisa Deeley said using the electronic records over handwritten ones makes the payroll process easier because there were no handwriting mistakes. Electronic records also eliminated the need to deal with lost paperwork that went missing after the polling places were shut down.

Officials are hoping that the quicker pay will act as an incentive to bring more workers to the city for November’s election.

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