NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) —Benton County is considering raising the pay for poll workers from $11 to $14 an hour for the next election cycle. 

Justice of the Peace Brian Armas says there’s a number of reasons why the increase would happen. One reason is the cost of living and the other reason is the workforce they’re recruiting. 

“Older Americans. And with that, you know, a lot of people on fixed income, a lot of folks are just not able to get out anymore,” Armas said. 

Funding for this increase will come from the county because it has a budget for elections.

The number of polling locations will also increase, making it about 40 to 45 in the next election cycle.

The county had 320 poll workers last cycle and wants to have 350 to 375 for the upcoming cycle. 

Washington County already increased its pay for election poll workers for 2023 and 2024. 

Jennifer Price, the director of elections in Washington County, said the election commission asked the Washington County Quorum Court for a salary adjustment in June 2023.

Workers will get paid $14 an hour from now on.

She says it’s important that their salary reflects the amount of work they do. 

“The duties that our poll workers are tasked to do for the elections has greatly increased with all of the new legislation and making sure that our poll workers are following through with the election laws, chain of custody,” Price said. 

She also says poll workers are important because it keeps polling locations in the community. 

“Without the poll workers, you would see really long lines on Election Day,” she said. “Voters would have to travel a greater distance to go to their polling location. So, they definitely are the heart and soul of the voting process.” 

The budget for Benton County will be set in stone by the end of the year according to Armas.