MASON CITY — A new report finds poll worker pay for the 2020 Primary and General Elections in at least a dozen counties, including Cerro Gordo, was either not approved by the county’s board of supervisors or was higher than authorized.
The review was launched after news reports that Scott County’s auditor had approved paying precinct election workers 15 dollars an hour. That exceeded the 10 dollar an hour rate approved by the Scott County Board of Supervisors.
State Auditor Rob Sand’s office reviewed poll worker pay in Scott County and 15 other counties. The report cites seven counties for either paying poll workers more than had been approved by the county’s board of supervisors or providing something like unapproved small bonuses for working during a pandemic.
Five of the 16 counties had no documentation of board of supervisors approval of election workers’ pay. The state auditor’s report also indicates eight counties had discrepancies in calculating the number of hours or mileage reimbursements for poll workers in 2020.
Under state law, temporary election workers are technically temporary STATE employees being paid by the counties. The state auditor’s report recommends that the secretary of state’s office develop new procedures to monitor poll worker pay. NONE of the discrepancies from 2020 that are cited in the report are subject to new fines the legislature approved in 2021 for election-related infractions.
The report shows that in Cerro Gordo County, the Board of Supervisors in January 2020 had approved establishing an hourly rate of $13 for chairpersons and $11 for all other workers. Workers were also to be reimbursed at the IRS maximum allowable rate for any mileage over five miles. The audit’s findings showed:
== Five workers who were not designated as a chairperson were paid an additional half hour for chairperson training, resulting in a total overpayment of $27.50.
= A worker was paid for an hour of work on November 12th twice, resulting in an overpayment of $11.
= A temporary worker was not compensated for 22 training miles, resulting in an underpayment of $12.65
= A temporary worker was compensated for an additional half hour but supporting documentation was not available for the time, resulting in an overpayment of $6.50.