Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The CSU Exemption: Why You Can't Work at the Polls

The California Secretary of State's office states on its web site that Government Code 19844.7 allows state employees to take time off, without loss of pay, to serve as Poll workers on Election Day. Well, not quite. CSU employees work for the state, but we don't count as state employees under this law.

The CSU Exemption

The California Education Code and Government Code both say, in effect, that (newish) laws which apply to state agencies or state employees do not apply to the CSU unless the CSU is specifically included. That's why it took a special law for CSU retirees to be offered the vision care benefits already enjoyed by civil service retirees.

Here's the relevant section of the Government Code:

11000. (a) As used in this title, "state agency" includes every state office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, and commission. As used in any section of this title that is added or amended effective on or after January 1, 1997, "state agency" does not include the California State University unless the section explicitly provides that it applies to the university.

And here's the relevant section of the Education Code:

66606.2. Recognizing the unique mission and functions of the California State University among the departments, agencies, and boards of the state, it is the intent of the Legislature that both of the following occur:


(b) The California State University not be governed by any statute enacted after January 1, 1997, that does not amend a previously applicable act and that applies generally to the state or to state agencies, departments, or boards, unless the statute expressly provides that the California State University is to be governed by that statute.

Sometimes the CSU is left out by accident. One element of our legislative program is simply watching for bills which are intended to apply to all state agencies, but forget to mention the CSU.

Poll Workers

So when the California Government Code 19844.7 says a state employee who has been appointed as a member of a precinct board and takes time off from state employment to serve as a member of that precinct board on election day shall receive payment of his or her regular wages or salary for that election day, without forfeiting any compensation received for his or her service as a precinct board member, that doesn't apply to CSU employees, because the CSU is not specifically listed.

Poll workers typically work at least a 15-hour day, and may have to attend separate training lasting 2 to 6 hours. The stipend varies depending on the county and duties, but seems to run between $80 and $165. The higher stipends are for the more demanding and time-consuming positions which involve supervision of other volunteers, transporting supplies, and delivering ballots.


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