Philly highlights fast payment for poll workers in latest recruitment effort

poll workers Philly
City and political officials pose with a ceremonial check during a news conference about payments to poll workers Tuesday, May 7, at LOVE Park.

Philadelphia officials gathered Tuesday at LOVE Park to celebrate an accomplishment that might seem mundane to most employees.

Checks for all 7,700 poll workers – totaling about $1.8 million – from the April 23 primary were processed within two weeks of the election. Payments, in prior years, had usually taken eight weeks or more.

“Nobody here is going to wait six weeks, eight weeks for their paycheck,” city Democratic Party chair and former Congressman Bob Brady said. “Neither should they.”

The City Commissioners, who oversee Philadelphia’s elections, credited the introduction of electronic poll books last year and a partnership with the City Controller’s Office for speeding up the process.

“For the past eight years I’ve been preaching about these poll books, and what a difference they’ll make,” Commissioner Lisa Deeley said. “I couldn’t have imagined such a swift turnaround, if not for the collaboration from our new controller.”

A few weeks before the election, Controller Christy Brady and her team, along with the commissioners, streamlined the accounting system, reducing hurdles that had delayed the payments, officials said.

The electronic books allow poll workers to input their information, creating a digital file. Previously, the commissioners’ office had to manually transcribe payment details from paper logs – a process that opened the door to mistakes, such as misinterpreted handwriting, Deeley said.

She added that the electronic books “eliminate weeks of work” for election employees.

poll workers Philly
Philadelphia Democratic Party chairman and former Congressman Bob Brady brings up longtime Northeast Philadelphia poll worker Jeffrey Stewart Tuesday, May, 7, during a news conference at LOVE Park.JACK TOMCZUK

Several of the elected leaders also thanked longtime Northeast Philadelphia poll worker Jeffrey Stewart, who attended Tuesday’s news conference, for bringing the issue to their attention.

Following last year’s general election, Stewart mentioned to City Councilmember Mike Driscoll that he had not yet received his check. It was getting into late December, and he planned to use the money to buy Christmas gifts.

“You taught us a lesson that day,” Driscoll said. “You shared that story with the controller and with our party chairman, and look what happened today.”

Most Election Day workers are paid $200 for working from 6:15 a.m. to a little after 8 p.m. They can also receive up to $80 for attending training. Workers open up the polls; check in and assist voters; and close up voting locations.

City leaders hope that getting payments out quicker will encourage more people to sign up. Election officials have struggled to recruit poll workers, particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“We want to do everything we can to attract more residents and have our polling precincts adequately staffed and ready to go for November 5,” Brady, the controller, said.

Anyone interested in becoming a poll worker can visit

Oct. 21 is the last day to register to vote in November’s general election, and the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 29. For more information, go to or

Pennsylvania is again set to play an integral role in the presidential race. There will also be a hotly contested U.S. Senate seat on the ballot, along with a host of other statewide and local positions.

Turnout in Philadelphia will be especially important for President Joe Biden, whose campaign will hope for a strong showing in the heavily Democratic city. Some in political circles have expressed concern with low numbers in last month’s primary; only about 19% of the city’s registered voters cast ballots.

“I’m not concerned at all about an uncontested primary at the top of the ticket,” Brady, the longtime local Democratic party leader, told Metro. “I’m as concerned as the Phillies are concerned about attendance in Clearwater.”

“I’m going to meet with the president and his people,” he added. “Tell me what he needs – the number we need to hit in November – and we’ll hit it again.”