Commissioners approve overtime pay for elections director

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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The Beaufort County Commissioners on Monday night approved $7,970.13 in overtime pay for Beaufort County Board of Elections Director Kellie Harris Hopkins, one day before Hopkins’ department was scheduled to hold its hand-to-eye recount meeting for the N.C. Supreme Court chief justice contest.

Hopkins is an exempt employee, meaning she doesn’t qualify for overtime pay. When the Commissioners met on Monday night, Board of Elections member Jason Williams reported that Hopkins had logged 450 hours of overtime between July 27 and the end of November. That is 173 more hours of overtime than she logged during the 2016 election cycle, according to Williams.

Williams requested that Hopkins receive overtime pay for those 173 hours. Hopkins’ pay rate is $30.67 per hour. Overtime pay in N.C. is 1 ½ times an employee’s regular rate of pay for every hour in excess of 40 hours worked in a week.

The money to cover Hopkins’ overtime pay comes from COVID-19 relief funds, which Williams said was approved by the State Board of Elections to cover employee overtime pay.

“These are moneys that we have to return to the state if we don’t use them in some form or fashion,” Williams said. “We have until the end of the year to do that. Kellie did such a great job throughout the entire election cycle. We would like to reward her.”

Shortly after that, Hopkins turned her attention back to the hand-to-eye recount, which incumbent Cheri Beasley requested last Wednesday. A statewide machine recount in the race between Beasley and Paul Newby concluded on that same day, and the results of that recount proved that Newby led Beasley by 401 votes with roughly 5.4 million votes cast.

“Under state law, each of the 100 county boards of elections will conduct a hand-to-eye count of all ballots in 3% of its precincts, rounded up to the next whole number of precincts,” a release from the State Board reads. “Each one-stop early voting site is considered a precinct for the purposes of a recount.

“… If the results of the sample hand-to-eye recount differ from the previous results within those precincts to the extent that extrapolating the amount of the change to the entire state (based on the proportion of ballots recounted to the total votes cast for that office) would reverse the results, then a statewide hand-to-eye recount of all ballots would be conducted.”

Beaufort County’s recount meeting was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The WDN will publish updates when results are reported. The machine recount found that Newby led Beasley by 5,911 votes in Beaufort County.