Pay increase approved for DeKalb County election judges

DeKalb County Board vote to increase election judge pay $30 more than $20 state increase, totaling $200

DeKalb County Clerk Tasha Sims visits with election judges Terry Heiland (left) and Steve Nemeth as they put vote-by-mail ballots in envelopes Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in the DeKalb County Administration Building in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – Future DeKalb County residents working election day polls will now have the opportunity to make up to $200 per day, after a pay increase was approved by the DeKalb County Board this week.

The vote Wednesday was unanimous, save for DeKalb County Board member Ellingsworth Webb, a Democrat from District 9, who recused himself because he’s served as a local election judge for the past 16 years. No discussion was held before the vote.

County officials have said a pay increase could help entice more to sign up to work the polls on election day.

In recent years, DeKalb County has hustled to get enough election judges before it comes time to vote. The topic arose again in the campaign for DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder in November 2022. Months before the June 2022 Primary election, DeKalb County still needed 100 judges to work polls. Two days before the April 4 Consolidated Election this spring, DeKalb County had 269 people committed to be election judges, which Clerk and Recorder Tasha Sims called “a good position” to be in compared to other counties.

Even though the State Board of Elections reimburses Illinois counties for some of the money spent on election judges, including the new $20 raise approved by the state, the DeKalb County Board still has to vote to approve any additional pay rate changes.

According to county documents, election judges are given a base pay of $110 – for a work day that starts at 5 a.m. and lasts until at least 7 p.m. on election day. By passing a mandatory biennial training course, election judges can receive $150 a day.

The state law will increase the daily pay of an election judge in DeKalb County to $170 without taking money away from the county. With the just-approved $30 increase by the County Board, election judges will now receive $200 total.

According to county documents, it costs DeKalb County $51,750 to pay for five election judges at 69 precincts. The state reimburses the county $15,525, bringing the total cost on the county down to $36,225.

The state law mandates county’s increase the pay rate by $20 per day for each worker, but that cost will be added to the reimbursement. If the County Board votes for only the $20 increase, the county will still pay $36,225 for the labor but the state will reimburse the county almost $8,000 more than it has in the past.

A $200 daily compensation rate would require the county to pay an additional $30 to up to 345 election judges – increasing the county’s cost by more than $10,000 per election.

Shaw Local reporter Camden Lazenby contributed to this story