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New Law: Poll Workers May be Paid by State While Receiving Unemployment Benefits

North Carolina compensation of precinct officials and assistants for the elections became more lucrative for people receiving unemployment benefits after Senate Bill 217 was signed into law last week.

Senate Bill 217 was signed by North Carolina Governor, Roy Copper becoming Session Law 2020-71 “An Act to Prevent Certain Payments to Precinct Officials Working the 2020 General Election from Reducing Unemployment Insurance.”


The bill reads:

“Payments received by precinct officials and assistants under G.S. 163-46 for work performed during the period from September 1, 2020, until November 5, 2020, do not affect the computation of the individual’s partial weekly benefit under G.S. 96-14.2(b).”


This bill is similar to the model of work-sharing programs. The work sharing programs allow businesses to reduce hours, by anywhere from 10% to 60%, for a group of employees.

According to a CNBC report about the topic the arrangement helps businesses to avoid laying off workers by letting them reduce worker hours instead. These workers receive a prorated unemployment benefit from the state to compensate for lost wages. 

However there are a couple of differences in the work sharing programs and Session Law 2020-71. The first difference is the government is the employer. Secondly, the law may be used as a recruiting tool for poll workers instead of a way to help keep a tax paying business in operation.

Democrat Karen Brinson Bell, NC State Board of Elections Executive Director, admitted the NC State Board has recommended this law to the state officials in the past. She stated in an email to county election board members,

“This was something we discussed in our recommendations, but did not make it’s way into the larger elections bill. We are happy to see this come to fruition and will hopefully help with poll worker recruitment. We will work with Employment Security Commission to determine if there are any steps that need to be taken on the elections side and let you know if so.”



Related article:

CNBC: Recalled to work? You can still collect unemployment benefits — and that extra $600 a week-

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