The D.C. Board of Elections has fielded myriad complaints in recent weeks from poll workers who were told to expect full payments by Christmas, said its executive director, Alice Miller. Workers were supposed to be paid $100 per shift during the early voting period and $250 for volunteering on Election Day, distributed in two separate checks.
“The calls have died down, from the best we can tell the checks are being received,” Miller said Friday. “We are extremely grateful — we wanted the workers paid.”
David Umansky, a spokesman for the chief financial officer, said the delays affected about 2,400 checks that were mailed out on Dec. 11. Nearly 900 people have reached out to his office in the past week to request a new check, change their address or bring up an issue with the payment amount, he said. Some of those messages are still in the email queue.
Umansky said Friday that about 1,000 checks from the delayed batch had been cashed so far, including some reissued payments. Poll workers were told by his office and the Elections Board that any check not cashed by Friday will automatically be canceled and reissued on Monday.
The new checks are expected to reach recipients by Feb. 6, Umansky said.
Heidi Case, a 60-year-old poll worker who has been waiting weeks for her $250 check to arrive, said she finally received the payment Thursday. But it was not clear to Case whether the envelope contained the old check or the reissued payment she had requested through the Board of Elections.
She decided to try her luck anyway with a mobile deposit Thursday evening. On Friday, she checked her bank account, watching with some trepidation to see whether it processed.
“It appears to have gone through, I’m glad it’s over,” said Case, a Shaw resident who is struggling financially and has been using credit cards to pay some of her bills. She worked every day during the early voting period as well as Election Day, and got a $700 check in December.
“Now I’m going to pay down the credit card a little bit more,” she added.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), whose committee oversees the Elections Board, said he heard from several election workers that their checks had started to arrive last weekend after his office received numerous complaints.
He and other city officials called the delays particularly troublesome after residents risked exposure to the coronavirus to staff the polls — and because many people are out of work and relying on supplemental income during the pandemic.
Ward 8 resident Keith Allen — no relation — was among the 1,000 poll workers still waiting for a check as of early this week. The 63-year-old said he called the Elections Board at least five times in the past month but received mixed messages about when he might actually receive the $250 payment he was owed for staffing a voting site on Election Day.
He was initially told to expect the payment before Christmas. If he had gotten it then, he said, he would have used the money to buy more presents for his grandchildren. It arrived Thursday instead.
Asked how he’d spend his earnings now, Allen’s answer was straightforward.
“Bills. Bills. Bills,” he said with a laugh.