Elections board considers ‘emergency’ plan

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By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration (BOER) again discussed the topic of creating an emergency management plan for the Elections and Registration office. Board Member David Moore described his idea for the plan as a procedural list of “critical actions” that would allow elections to continue in the unforeseen absence of essential elections personnel. Moore also recommended to the board that they “formalize” election night procedures by enacting a clear chain of command and separation of duties that each election worker will be responsible for. Moore said that clear procedures would allow for greater “control of the work area” as well as making sure the workers have all the physical separation they need between them and the public in order to carry out their duties most efficiently. BOER Chair George Holt stated that he did not think that a clear separation of duties during election night is necessary, but he asked Moore and Elections Supervisor Bobby Howington to meet sometime before the next meeting to discuss what they could do to clarify election night procedures. The board also discussed its responsibilities regarding the ethics filing requirements of qualified candidates.

Again Moore asked the board to create a list of policies and procedures for the edification of both the board and the candidates that they deal with. “I just want more formality in the process,” said Moore. Howington said that it is difficult to keep regular procedures including deadlines in line with the appropriate dates because the frequent changes in filing schedules. Holt stated that the board had formerly agreed to allow Howington to send invoices for past due fees related to qualifying and ethics disclosure reports before having the board act formally on the issuance of the invoices. Holt said that having the board vote on past due invoices would both put the responsibility for the invoices with the board and “publicize” the delinquent fees by having them discussed in an open meeting. Board Member John Milliken stated that the duty to collect past due fees becomes easier to enforce when the public can become aware of them through the media. Moore said that he would prefer preventative notices being sent to the candidates, and Howington said that he plans to send early notices as a matter of “courtesy.” Milliken indicated that he did not want to stretch the office’s responsibility to notify candidates that owe past due fees beyond what is required, but he also acknowledged that it is “extremely easy” for a candidate to violate some of the time constraints imposed upon them.

Board Member Avery Jackson discussed a problem with the minutes from the BOER meeting on March 20, 2014. He stated that it was reported in the media that he brought up the topic of adding written and hands-on portions of the poll worker’s training course, and, subsequently, he received phone calls about the recommendation. Jackson asked that the minutes reflect that all of the board members discussed the idea of having written and hands-on portions added to the poll worker training course, but he would not offer additional language to be inserted into the minutes. Milliken, who was not present at the March 20 meeting, suggested that the minutes be tabled so Jackson could work with Howington toward correcting the minutes, but Jackson said that he did not think that they needed to be tabled and that, instead, they should approve the minutes with the changes to be made later.

Moore said that he would not vote to approve changes that he hasn’t seen in writing and made a motion to table the minutes. Milliken seconded the motion despite his absence at the meeting and the vote passed 2-0 with Jackson abstaining. Howington said that 29 poll workers attended the poll worker training on April 14, which left 11 poll workers having to attend the makeup training on April 22. Howington said that the training “went well” and noted that three additional Morgan County High School students volunteered to be poll workers. Howington announced that advance voting for the primary will begin on April 28, with the Saturday voting date being May 10. The board voted to extend the voting hours on Saturday, May 10, to from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in order to match the weekday voting hours for advance voting.

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