CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County is seeking about 1,000 election judges for the upcoming consolidated elections in the suburbs in April. They also say they are improving the payment process after CBS 2 reported on the frustrations of several election judges over the past year.
Morning Insider Tim McNicholas asked the Cook County Clerk’s office what’s being done to make the payment process better this year.READ MORE: Woman Killed, 12-Year-Old And Infant In Critical Condition After Hit-And-Run Crash
“They have to make it right,” said Susan Rohde, who has served as a Cook County election judge for more than a decade. “It’s too late to apologize, and then they just make excuses. So, no, I’m done.”
Her troubles started after the primary elections last March, when her payment was delayed for months, which the county blamed on the pandemic and the U.S. Postal Service.
Then, after the November election, she found an unexpected pension deduction from her check for the two days she worked last year.
“I had to call the pension fund, fill out lots of paperwork, and mail that in. And now I got a check from the pension fund, so I got my money back out of the pension fund,” Rohde said.
CBS 2 has reported on similar problems with other judges, but the county clerk’s office insisted this election will be smoother; in part because it’s smaller and easier to manage, but that’s not all.
“We’re making things more transparent for the judges, making sure they understand when to expect their checks, and how to expect their checks,” said Ed Michalowksi, deputy clerk of elections.
Michalowski insisted the county clerk’s office has to deduct pensions for any judge who earns more than $600 in a year. He said that’s because of IRS and county rules.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: First Round Of Severe Storms Doesn't Materialize, But Severe Storms Still Expected Sunday Night
Judges can get a refund after filing paperwork with the pension board.
Rohde said she just got her deduction returned last week.
“Be honest with communication. If you’re going to start taking pension money out, tell the judges that,” Rohde said.
McNicholas asked Michalowski: “isn’t there a way to just eliminate that for these people that are only working one day?”
“We’re working with several county commissioners right now, and the [Cook County Board] president’s office, to find a way to make certain that we can streamline this,” Michalowski said.
But the pension rule will still be in place next month, so judges will have to file the paperwork if they want that deduction refunded.
The county said they’re trying to be more proactive, to alleviate any delays or hurdles on the pension refunds or the paychecks.
“We really need people to participate as election judges,” Michalowski said.MORE NEWS: Fifth Person Dies After Mass Shooting At House In Englewood
Michalowski said the recent problems have caused a few judges to call it quits, but he said it is tough in general to find enough judges for a smaller election like this.