The articles in this roundup of regional news are taken from weeklies across the region. This is the second part, the first having appeared in Saturday’s Tribune.
GRANGEVILLE – Without a hitch: The electoral debut of the electronic ballot books in the March 8 election was received positively with little to no problem, according to the Idaho County Office of Elections, a good try for the primary loaded expected in May.
“From the feedback we’ve gotten so far from election officials, it’s been positive,” said Jessica Adams, election assistant. “We had a few questions about, ‘How do you do this,’ and ‘How do you do that?’ but everything else went well. A few voters were interested in the new system, she added, but mostly no one commented.
“We’re going to have them at every polling station in May,” Adams said. “I expect everything to go pretty well.”
Tablet computers are a common feature in transactions, whether doing business at the bank or paying for groceries. Electronic ballot books are used statewide, and Idaho County added this tool to reduce the work of staff involved in election processing and improve the flow of voters to the polls. The levy vote was the trial run, according to Idaho County Clerk Kathy Ackerman.
“We wanted to make it easy for ourselves because we knew the primary election was going to be pretty busy,” she said, as well as to start getting voters familiar with them.
Not all of the county’s 23 precincts were impacted by the levy, so as the May primary approaches, additional training for poll workers will be provided on the use of electronic voting books.
Using it is as simple as scanning the code on a voter’s driver’s license or ID card. The tablet relies on voter data, which was uploaded the Friday before the election, which will list the voter’s address. The poll worker will confirm this with the voter, who signs using a stylus, and the tablet reading will indicate which ballots will be issued for that person. The information on the tablet will be constituency-specific, so a voter attempting to register at the wrong post will be redirected to their correct polling location. It will also know if someone has already voted, and poll workers will direct the elector to contact the election office for further questions.
According to Idaho County Chief Electoral Officer Bette Polack, voters forget they’ve ever voted.
“It happens with these close elections,” she said, like with a March draw vote, “and then they can get there early to vote in the May primary and then go to the polls later. This is where it gets confusing sometimes because people don’t remember when they voted.
So where do electronic voting books improve the process? On the back end to start, Ackerman explained.
In the past, on the Friday night before the election, staff would print out poll books for each of the 23 precincts that list all eligible voters and whether anyone has ever voted, either at the courthouse or by mail.
“It’s a tedious undertaking to get 23 riding books printed and assembled for delivery on Monday,” she said. After an election, staff will go through the poll books and analyze each person’s voter history in three separate passes for Republicans, Democrats and independent voters, “touching each precinct register three times,” Polack added. That process can take about two months, which needs to be factored into the work of preparing for the next election — a busy time, Ackerman said, if you have a presidential primary followed by a primary in May.
Electronic voting books eliminate this process, as the data is added once and downloaded to tablets, and after the election the information from these – including who voted and who did not, and who registered at the polls – are reintroduced in the county election. system.
For further clarification, Ackerman wants voters to know that these electronic voting books are not connected to the Internet or any other transmittable format.
“It’s just for voter registration. It has nothing to do with the voting component, only that a ballot was issued for that person. A voter can bring the ballot to the polling station, not vote it and return it. This will not be tracked. It will tell us what ballots were cast, what an ordinary ballot book did anyway.
According to Ackerman and Polack, voters should find that it helps them get through the process more easily and ensures the integrity of the vote.
For poll workers, “they’re happy not to leaf through poll books,” Polack said.
— David Rauzi, Idaho County Free Press (Grangeville), Wednesday
Cost causes McCall-Donnelly School District to cancel construction of new offices
MCCALL — Plans to build new district offices for the McCall-Donnelly School District have been canceled after construction estimates came in at about $800,000 above the proposed $2 million budget.
The current district offices at 120 Idaho St. in McCall will be renovated instead of rebuilt, Superintendent MD Eric Pingrey said.
“A remodel will not provide us with additional space,” Pingrey said. “We will focus on creating a healthy work environment.
“I don’t recommend spending another $800,000,” he said. “We will focus on more pressing projects.”
The plans for the new building called for five offices, a conference room and a meeting room for 58 people.
The building was intended to house not only district administrators, but also the information technology department and provide space for school board meetings now held at McCall-Donnelly High School.
The IT department is currently housed in a temporary building in the school parking lot.
Renovation plans for the current offices are expected to be completed later this spring or summer, Pingrey said.
The current building has four offices and has several problems including drinking water, heating and mold.
In November, the district board approved spending no more than $2 million on the new building.
Costs for the new building would be paid for from a combination of the district’s capital improvement fund, capital projects fund, and federal funds that totaled approximately $2.5 million.
The Capital Improvement Fund is a board-directed fund that consists of budget surpluses. The capital construction fund is used for various improvement projects.
— Max Silverson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday