Election officials recounting ballots may be ‘paid volunteers,’ but standards are still high

VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s unprecedented election recounts are using dozens of election officials. They have all worked the city’s precincts in the past election, are registered to vote in Virginia Beach, and were subpoenaed to work the recount.

The city’s department of elections recruits volunteers to work the polls during elections. They receive $20 for training and $140 for working on Election Day.

Election officials working the recount will receive $115 per diem, Director of Elections Donna Patterson said.

“They are volunteers — who are compensated,” she said.

Related story: Court clerk: Virginia Beach recount process begins in ‘organized chaos’

The recount officials, who actually review the ballots, and the observers behind them, who merely watch, were both selected by City Council candidates themselves.

Observers were pulled from the candidates’ own network of people, while election officials used in the recount were selected from a list of poll workers used in the November election.

Patterson said election volunteers do not go through the rigorous background check process that city staff complete. However, volunteers are still vetted and monitored, and expectations are still high.

“All have taken an oath, are registered to vote, and have gone through training with city staff,” Patterson said.

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