Some N.H. Clerks Search Compensation For Additional Hours, Threat In 2020 Elections

Plymouth City Clerk Josie Girona Ewing desires to be clear: She doesn’t do that job for the cash. She does it as a result of she desires her neighbors to have the ability to belief their elections. However residing as much as that purpose in 2020 took a number of further effort — and additional hours.

“I put in at the least 15 to 20 extra hours of labor in every week, relying on the week,” she mentioned. “However many weeks, I used to be bringing work house, I used to be working effectively into the evening.”

New Hampshire’s native election officers logged plenty of early mornings, lengthy nights and weekends on the job in 2020 to make sure voting might proceed regardless of all the adjustments as a result of pandemic. In lots of instances, they did so with none further compensation. In Plymouth and elsewhere, some officers try to alter that.

“I feel election officers are asking for acknowledgment and due to the period of time, the numerous period of time that was put into sustaining our election system this 12 months,” Girona Ewing mentioned.

To that finish, she requested the Plymouth Choose Board to make use of a part of the emergency federal funding they acquired for COVID-related election bills to compensate her and different native election officers for his or her further time.

Elsewhere, different communities have chosen to supply further pay to part-time election staff or small stipends to clerks. Whether or not an area election employee receives any pay for the additional time they put on this 12 months will fluctuate relying on the place they reside.

The Secretary of State’s workplace says communities are allowed to make use of the emergency election funding they acquired the CARES Act “for compensation above and past [local election officials’] set wage or stipend.” However finally, the choice is left as much as native selectboards.

New Hampshire Metropolis and City Clerks Affiliation President Sherry Farrell, of Londonderry, says she hopes these decisionmakers bear in mind all the tasks clerks have been shouldering all through the pandemic — in elections and past — as they weigh these compensation questions.

“You realize, from the very starting when little was recognized about this pandemic, we nonetheless had been in right here opening doorways, rubber gloves, spraying Lysol,” Farrell mentioned, “as a result of what we do needed to proceed. We could not simply work for house like so many alternative positions might.”

Whereas Farrell is cautious to not evaluate her job to that of first responders or different emergency personnel, she hopes individuals acknowledge that clerks had been additionally “important staff” who made sacrifices to make sure their neighbors might proceed to solid a poll, register their automotive, license their canine, apply for marriage licenses and extra all through the pandemic.

“We needed to be right here on the entrance traces,” Farrell mentioned. “And a few places of work are nonetheless closed — among the smaller places of work, or if a case of COVID ought to come — however behind the scenes they’re nonetheless taking the mail, they’re nonetheless assembly residents exterior, processing issues, as a result of what we do has to proceed.”

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