SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Poll workers in Hand County will be making a little extra money on Election Day. 

In October, the Hand County Commission voted 5-0 in favor of auditor Doug DeBoer’s resolution to increase compensation for election workers. DeBoer, a former sheriff in Hand County, told KELOLAND News he believes election workers are “hidden heroes.” 

“They are the most important,” DeBoer said. “They are the soldiers in the field. They are the players on the court.” 

DeBoer said election workers typically work a 14-hour day on Election Day, working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but also spend time setting up and tearing down polling locations before and after the legal voting hours. He said all election workers in Hand County used to be paid the same rate, but the change in pay will be scaled for different positions at voting locations. 

A precinct superintendent will be paid $252. That person is in charge of a polling location and reports directly to the county auditor. A precinct deputy will be paid $225 and a precinct attendant, not serving as a deputy or superintendent, will be paid $180. The precinct superintendent is also paid $72 to attend worker training with the county auditor. 

“It reflects the importance of those people. When they receive a paycheck they don’t feel cheated,” DeBoer said. “It’s the best way to pat them on the back.” 

Hand County paying election workers more than Minnehaha County 

The topic of election worker pay was discussed during a South Dakota Legislature Government Operations and Audit Committee this summer. Secretary of State Steve Barnett told lawmakers in July election worker pay is set by county commissions and estimated pay ranges from $90 to $150 per day. 

In Minnehaha County, the largest county in the state, election workers will be paid $180 if they are serving as the superintendent at $150 for deputies. That pay rate was approved in January 2022.  For precinct setup and tear down, $15 per session is paid to the precinct superintendent and deputy. 

There’s more than 70 different precincts in Minnehaha County and more than 126,000 registered voters. 

Hand County will have five precincts with four polling locations for Tuesday’s election, which is a decrease from 12 precincts and eight polling locations in 2020. There’s 2,266 registered voters in Hand County and about 500 to 550 voters per precinct. 

DeBoer said the redistricting process created some problems for voters and election workers at poll locations during the June primary and that spurred him to ask for more pay for election workers. 

DeBoer said Hand County Commissioners were very open to the pay increase. He said the decision to close a polling location in Ree Heights, located in western Hand County, saved the county some money and the increased pay wouldn’t impact the county budget because of that.  

DeBoer said there’s still some residents upset about closing that polling location, but he said it was not a handicap accessible building.