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Politicsby Brenda Wintrode3:16 pmJan 7, 20210

Delay in election judges’ checks blamed on U.S. Postal Service

Many Baltimore election workers still haven’t been paid after working on Election Day in November

Above: Baltimore elections chief Armstead Jones in June, speaking to reporters about problems with the primary vote count. (Louis Krauss)

Last month, a Baltimore election judge who worked on Election Day in November called the city Board of Elections to ask when she would get her paycheck.

The checks hadn’t been mailed yet, a staffer told the election worker, Alison Velez Lane, but they would go out on December 16.

Lane, however, wouldn’t see the check in her mailbox until last night, January 6, or more than two months after she had put in a full day assisting voters at the Renaissance Academy polling place. The check was dated December 16.

“It didn’t occur to me that it would get all caught up” in the recent U.S. Postal Service delivery delays, Lane said.

The 58-year-old was happy to finally get her money – she is between jobs and plans to put it toward a utility bill – but others are not so lucky.

Many of the hundreds of election workers expecting checks for their Election Day work have not received them.

Election officials acknowledge the payment delay problem, which has drawn complaints on social media, but say the federal mail delay is to blame. This week the Finance Department began tracking who has and has not yet gotten paid.

Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., the longtime elections director, said his staff has never experienced a paycheck holdup like this.

“We are doing what we can to try to get these people paid because we appreciate what they do,” Jones said, adding, “of course, you never know when you need them again.”

Jones said he has received calls and texts from some election workers saying they got their checks as early as December 19, and others that say they are still waiting. But since he’d heard reports of checks being received, he had assumed the rest of the checks must be delayed in the mail.

Check is in the Mail

Shippers across the country are experiencing delays due to “historic” mail volumes amid the pandemic and the holiday season, according to a spokeswoman for the Baltimore District of the Postal Service.

Lane said mail delivery to her West Baltimore residence has been unreliable and sporadic. “Three to four days go by and we would have no mail,” she said.

City officials said the bulk of the 964 paychecks were mailed from a third-party payroll vendor in Georgia either before or on December 16.

The results of a reconciliation of the outstanding checks should be completed by the end of this week, according to Stefanie Mavronis, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.

“The bottom line is everyone is going to get paid,” Mavronis said.

Slow Process

According to Jones, the Elections Board tallies the number of hours worked and amounts owed to each election worker and then sends a digital file to the city’s payroll department.

Jones said his office emailed the file in the beginning of December. Asked to describe the next steps in the process, Payroll Manager Robin Scott-Lyles referred all questions to the mayor’s communications office.

For the last 10 years, the city has contracted with ADP in Atlanta, Georgia, to process employee payroll, according to Mavronis. Election judges have also been paid through this same process.

Checks were to be mailed to election workers six to eight weeks after Election Day, according to the election board’s website. Eight weeks post-Election Day was December 29.

Election judges earned $165 per day, and chief judges, who are assigned a supervisory role, $225 per day.

Jones said anyone wanting to issue a stop payment on their check should call the Board of Elections at 410-396-5580.

– To reach the reporter, email us at editors@baltimorebrew.com

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