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Kokua Line

Poll workers receive stipend for service to community


Question: Why are people working at the polls on election day paid less than minimum wage? The 2010 Precinct Official’s Manual states that the workers’ hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the precinct leader told us to be there at 5:20 a.m. The pay was $85 for the day, which is less than the state minimum of $7.25 per hour. The handbook does use the term "volunteer." Is that how the state avoids paying minimum wage and obeying basic labor laws?

Answer: The $85 paid to many election day workers is not meant as a wage, but is a stipend paid to volunteers.

"The purpose and motivation (of working at the polls) is providing service to the community," said Rex Quidilla, spokesman for the state Office of Elections. "There is no way for us to measure the breadth of service … and we recognize (the pay) is not commensurate to the great work provided on election day."

The stipend schedule for election workers is set forth in the Office of Elections’ Hawaii Administrative Rules 3-172-66, "Compensation for Election Day Officials."

The base pay depends on the position worked and location (the different counties or the state) and ranges from $50 to $175.

See rules.pdf for the stipend schedule.

Question: Millions of dollars were raised at many political fundraisers held the past several months. Many politicians had large amounts of funds left over. What happens to that money? Do they get to keep it for future campaigning? Is tax paid on it?

Answer: You can find information about campaign spending laws on the state Campaign Spending Commission website,

Basically, surplus funds may be used after an election for any fundraising or other politically related activity sponsored by a candidate; expenses incurred as part of a candidate’s duties as an elected state or county official; and for donations to any community service, educational, youth, recreational, charitable, scientific or literary organization, subject to restrictions.

Politically related activity would include such things as a "mahalo" party after the election and newsletters to supporters.

Meanwhile, a candidate who ends up not filing nomination papers or withdraws as a candidate for whatever reason is required to return all "residual funds" to contributors or turn them over to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

A candidate who isn’t nominated or elected to office is allowed to spend surplus funds up to one year after the election for which the contributions were received, unless that person declares their candidacy for the "next subsequent election."

A candidate who is elected may spend surplus funds within four years from the date of the election for which the contributions were received, including for the next election.

In both cases, contributions not returned to contributors would go into the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund.

Unless diverted to personal use, campaign contributions are not taxable income. To be exempt from taxes, campaign contributions have to be spent for campaign purposes or kept for use in future campaigns. 


To the adult female bicycle rider who crossed Ala Wai Boulevard at about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, not in a crosswalk, followed closely by a young girl, also on a bicycle. Why are people looking to become another statistic?

— Eudie Schick


Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail

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