Are election workers county employees?

October 01, 2020
By Michele Arseneau, TAC Senior Human Resources Consultant
Risk Management News

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As counties prepare for the Nov. 3 general election, they should understand these key points about the election workers they employ to work the polls.

Election workers are part-time temporary employees and should be paid through payroll. The county directs the work of the employee and has control over how the work is done and when it is done. Election workers should be processed as any other part-time employee. 

Election workers are exempt from filling out an I-9 form. This was granted through a letter from the Immigration Service. The exemption from completing the I-9 form applies if election work is the only work the person does for the county.

There is an exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes for election workers whose total income from all sources, not just election earnings, is less than $1,800 for tax year 2020. If the election worker has other income and does not disclose this to you, you will owe taxes from the first dollar paid, plus penalties and interest. 

Consider how you would go back and collect the payroll taxes if the election workers were to exceed whatever threshold your election workers are under. You must collect from the first dollar paid when that happens. How would you get the taxes you owe? It is never wrong to withhold all normal payroll taxes from election workers. If the election worker does not owe the tax, they can get a refund when filing their yearly tax forms.

Additional resources:
Election Worker Issues Q&A — TAC
Election Workers: Reporting and Withholding — IR