In its last meeting of 2020, the Columbus County Board of Elections on Monday considered hazard pay for the two full-time employees at the elections office and chose to make the final decision by phone before the end of the month.
Upon presenting her hours during this year’s election to the board, Director Carla Strickland mentioned that the board members had approved using CARES Act funds toward the salaried wages of herself and Kathy Enzor, senior elections specialist, to compensate for difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been a long and very expansive election for us this time around, considering dealing with a pandemic and trying to make sure that we had enough ballots for every one of the one stop sites,” Strickland said. “We’ve had so many different issues that we’ve really had to address more so than we had in the past.”
The board then went into closed session, which had not been on the agenda, to discuss hazard pay for Strickland and Enzor. Strickland did not know, however, the CARES Act balance for the elections office, after distributing hazard pay to their hourly workers.
The board had approved a $2 hazard pay for poll workers and temporary office workers in August.
The board voted Monday to cancel its Dec. 28 meeting, however, members agreed to conduct a vote by phone before Dec. 31, when the elections office must return all unused funds back to the state, to determine percentage of hazard pay for the two full-time employees.
Strickland also updated the board on the post-election office, which includes validating voter history of over 27,000 records, saying that all Election Day ballots, provisional ballots and absentee by mail ballots were accurate.
“We really have to go through it with a fine tooth comb,” Strickland said.
This includes verifying application forms, the transfer of data from the voting precinct laptops to the system, the last election the voter participated in and the voter’s name.
“Right now the ones that we’re having discrepancies with is the one stop early voting,” Strickland said, adding that she was still researching 36 voters.
In addition, Strickland announced that Democrat Cheri Beasley conceded the Supreme Court Chief Justice race to Republican Paul Newby on Saturday. “That was music to my ears,” she said after expressing her worry over conducting a full hand-to-eye recount of all 26 Election Day precincts, five one stop sites, provisional ballots and absentee by mail ballots.
In other news from the meeting, the board decided to create an evaluation for election employees at a future date and approved the minutes from its meetings between Oct. 6 and Nov. 9.