Broward News

[UPDATED] A Dirty Job: Broward School Board Member Ann Murray Offers Poor Residents a Low Wage to Stand at Poll

For folks in a low-income section of Hollywood, it's hard to pass up a chance to make $50 -- even if it means standing outside in 95-degree heat for 12 hours holding up a campaign sign. And that, say sources in South Hollywood, is the offer being dangled by Broward County School Board member Ann Murray.

The job, which reportedly goes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., comes to just over $4 an hour. (Minimum wage is $7.25.) There's a fine line between providing jobs to low-income workers and exploiting the desperately poor. Murray appears to be on the wrong side of that line.

Murray could not be immediately reached for comment. If I speak with her soon, I'll update this post. [See update below.]

According to a source in Hollywood with knowledge of Murray's offer, "Some are doing it because they want to represent the candidate, but the rest of them -- this economy being what it is -- they're just trying to put food on the table."

Murray's opponent, Rebecca Horner, doesn't have any poll workers at the precinct. "I don't have the resources to do that," she said, after learning of the $50 payment. But even if she did, Horner thinks it's a misleading way of demonstrating a candidate's popularity. "If people really support you, you shouldn't need to pay them."

UPDATE: I reached Murray today. She's upset that the original post did not have her comments. "I haven't made any decision to pay anybody at the polls," she said, adding, "You got the wrong information."

Murray asked about my sources. I explained that my sources spoke on condition of anonymity. I asked Murray whether she categorically denied that she had ever planned to pay $50-per-day to poll workers. She stopped short of that denial, saying only, "I don't know what Tuesday (election day) will bring. That's all I have to say to you."

Before posting this article, I phoned Murray at the number she registered with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. There was no answer. Next I tried reaching her through the school board. A secretary there told me that they would be sure to get my message to Murray.

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Thomas Francis