Panos calls for probe of Middlesex County Board of Elections

OLD BRIDGE, NJ – Did the Middlesex County Board of Election adopt a partisan process for compensating Election Day help?

Middlesex GOP Chairwoman Lucille Panos thinks so, and she’s asking Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey to conduct a formal investigation. She sent him a letter dated May 12th with the details.

Panos alleges that the office of Daniel Frankel (who serves as Commissioner of Registration at the Board of Elections) failed to follow county policy and procedures for the 2018 Vote by Mail (VBM) ballots program. The basic background: the Board of Elections has the option to hire “seasonal” employees to assist with processing vote by mail ballots. The Board is supposed to hire Democrats and Republicans in equal numbers. The seasonal rate for these employees is $15 per hour. 

Or is it?

Republican workers were retained in the normal course and paid $15 per hour, but “[n]o attempt was made to solicit Democrats to work for $15/hour. Instead, another county official was requested to supply Democrat County employees to work,” Panos claimed by way of her press release. “Since Election Day, November 6, 2018, was a holiday for these employees, they would be reimbursed at 1 ½ times their normal pay rate and subsequently receive a paid day off for working the holiday. Through the OPRA request it was determined all Democrat county employees were reimbursed at hourly rates from a low of $27.88/hour to a high of $86.80/hour in addition to receiving a subsequent paid day off.”

The Board worker pay list obtained by Panos is viewable here.

The end result? Utilized county employees cost $35,139 and the Republican “seasonal” employees cost a fraction of that figure: only $3,990.

Panos says the upcoming June Primary is likely to see more of the same.

“Yes there will be County workers from other departments working on Primary Election Day, June 4, 2019,” the Board informed Panos pursuant to an email request shared with the media by Panos. “All County employees (except management and other selected functions) are represented by a Union (AFSCME Council #73). As such there are strict stipulations concerning their pay and overtime rates. The Board of Elections always follows the stipulations of this Union.”