Election commission looks toward future

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Carroll County Election Commission is looking ahead to upcoming elections.

The commissioners met Thursday to discuss elections coming up in the county this year and to work on a proposal for updating the county’s voting machines.

Commissioner Gary Deramus said Eureka Springs may hold a special election in the near future to renew a voluntary tax for the Parks and Recreation Department. Commission chairman David Hoover asked if the city is still considering holding another election for the proposed sales and use tax that was voted down in the 2016 General Election.

“Last I heard they had the sales tax turned down, and they wanted another vote,” Hoover said. “But the law says they cannot have another vote on the same issue for four months.”

“The city is also looking at increasing water and sewer rates, so I think they felt that they didn’t need to do that anymore,” Deramus said.

Hoover said the Berryville School District may request a special election seeking a millage increase later in the year to fund the proposed construction of a new high school. Deramus asked if the millage issue would be part of the school board election.

“It usually goes with the school board election,” Hoover said, “but I believe they can have the election at any time.”

The commission also discussed how many new voting machines would be needed to completely update the precincts in Carroll County.

“We need to have a proposal ready. In preparation to get those machines, we need to know how many we need to cover the county,” Hoover said.

After reviewing the waiting time at the six polling sites in the 2016 General Election, the commission came to the conclusion that the county will need 50 ExpressVote voting machines, eight DS200 precinct vote scanners and tabulators, 22 electronic poll books and printers and one Election Reporting Manager (ERM).

Deramus said the totals would account for backups in case any machines go down during an election or a polling site is getting overwhelmed with voters.

“We may have to negotiate the number. It’s unlikely the state will approve us for all of these,” he said.

Hoover said the commission would also need to find adequate storage for the new machines.

“They have to be stored in a climate-controlled storage space. There can be no humidity, and it has to be temperature-controlled,” he said. “We can’t just get a storage locker somewhere.”

While he had looked into storing the machines in the dispatch center in the courthouse after dispatch services relocate to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Hoover said the space may be converted into an office for the county judge.

He said he is looking into other options.

“I want to start working on the storage problem now before the new machines arrive,” Hoover said.

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