Poll workers in New Jersey would get a 50% raise, their first in 18 years, under newly proposed legislation that would compel the state to spend more than $5 million more a year running elections.

They are currently paid $200 per election, with the state paying $125 of that. A bipartisan bill seeks to increase that to $300 and would require the state government, not counties, to pay the additional $100.

“I see the poll workers in every election, whether it’s a special election, whether it’s a normal election, primaries or in the general, and they work from 5:30 in the morning when they have to be there starting at 6. And they don’t close down until 8:30, 9 o’clock at night,” said Assemblyman Rob Karibinchak, D-Middlesex.

“And for the amount of money that is given to them for a huge amount of time that they have to spend there, I think that they deserve a little bit more,” he said.

The bill, A5726, is also sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-Bergen, and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen. Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, D-Mercer, is a co-sponsor.

Karibinchak said the pay increase could help address the challenge of finding poll workers, which he said can be in short supply.

“And it depends on how many polling places that there are in every town. Some have up to 20 different polling places in a town,” he said. “Again, it’s the time that they spend. It’s the time.”

Poll workers last got a raise in 2001, when their pay went from $75 a day to $200. The state spends roughly $7 million a year to cover that increase.

A fiscal note for the new bill isn’t out yet, but it’s reasonable to project that an additional $100 per diem would cost the state at least $5.5 million annually.

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