The 2018 midterm election is now in the past in Missouri. For the thousands of poll workers who spent a long day helping voters cast their ballots, Election Day can be a grind. Carrying boxes of ballots is not light work. Worse, poll workers are prone to getting hurt because elections are rare, making it nearly impossible to adequately prepare or stay in shape, and because poll workers are often retirees who are past their physical prime.
Every year, dozens of poll workers in Missouri get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation law is unlikely to provide the coverage they need, revealing an important hole in the system.
Workers’ Compensation Unlikely to Cover Election Polling Staff
There are two major reasons why poll workers—also called election judges in Missouri—are unlikely to get the help they need from Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws.
The first and most obvious reason is that injured poll workers will have a hard time showing that they are “employees” that are covered by workers’ compensation. While poll workers do have to go through extensive training and are paid for their work—both suggesting they are an employee—the temporary nature of the job is a strong indication otherwise.
Additionally, many poll workers and election judges are technically appointed, rather than hired. Many counties in Missouri have an election authority that is responsible for staffing the polls. This authority has power to appoint poll workers who have applied to serve. Missouri Revised Statute 115.101 states that these “election judges appointed by the election authority shall not be considered employees of the election authority,” expressly pulling them out of the definition of an employee.
Even Covered Poll Workers Left Undercompensated
Second, even if a poll worker is deemed an employee, and is therefore covered by Missouri’s workers’ compensation law, the compensation they can receive is often not enough.
An important piece of the compensation puzzle for an injured worker is for the wages they have lost. At best, this can amount to very little for an injured poll worker. Even if a hurt election judge was making the maximum amount in the state of Missouri—around $100 for a full day of work—the only wages they have lost out on would have come from the next election cycle. In the end, this means that the lost wages that workers’ compensation could cover would only amount to around a hundred dollars per year.
Further, the fact that many counties appoint election judges for specific elections, rather than hire them for multiple election cycles at a time, makes it difficult to prove that a poll worker was guaranteed a job for the upcoming election. With those wages uncertain, recovering them in a workers’ compensation claim would be tricky.
Alternative Claims for Injured Election Judges
Just because poll workers would have a hard time getting workers’ compensation for an injury on the job, though, does not mean they are completely out of luck. A premises liability claim can help if you were hurt by a hazardous condition at the polling place. Additionally, other legal options might be open to you, depending on the circumstances.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at the Smith Law Office
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph strive to represent people who have been hurt while on the job. Contact us online or call us at (816) 875-9373.