The Board of Elections had a full agenda during its meeting last Tuesday, discussing its Lilesville voting plan, and office and ballot security.
Lilesville Voting Plan
The board discussed the few possible voting locations in Lilesville. Although Lilesville Elementary School is an option, the board has been trying to move voting locations out of schools for safety reasons. The only other facility large enough to house the voters and equipment is the fire department, and the board does not feel it has the support of the department to use the larger rooms in the facility rather than the bay area.
Technically, the board can go over the fire department and use its facilities, though it prefers amicable negotiations to forcing the department to allow voting to be held there. Board members said they are focused on doing what is best for the voters. “What’s best for the voters is to not be out in the bay, but inside,” Board of Elections director Steve Adams said. However, he said he wants to also maintain a “good working relationship” with the LFD.
The LFD responded to the board’s request with a contract containing several promises and concessions, including doing a before-and-after check of the facilities and charging any damages to the board. “Personally, I am not willing to sign this agreement,” Board of Elections member Lillie Williams said. “We do not have to. With all due respect to them, we will do our best. It is a very nice fire department, and I’m just as proud of it as they are, because it is funded by our county tax dollars. But I think if we need to get something to substantiate [the board’s decision], we can.”
Williams made a motion to proceed without entering into the agreement at that time and to get both Adams and a LFD representative to do before-and-after checks of the department, and for Adams to contact the state Board of Elections to apprise it of the situation. The board voted unanimously for the agreement (board member Freddie Paxton was absent).
Office and Ballot Security
The board discussed both office security and protection of voting ballots. According to Adams, he is one of a handful of people who hold a key to the building; assistant director Geneva Timmons, county maintenance director Jeff Waisner, Thedis Spencer, and county fire marshal Rodney Diggs all hold keys, as well.
Williams expressed concern that even those few people hold keys to the building. Adams said that Waisner and Diggs both hold keys in the event of an emergency, while Spencer holds a key for his cleaning service. Although Spencer’s key is for a separate job than his position of police chief, Williams worried about the possible conflict of interest presented by a town employee with free access to the Board of Elections.
Adams suggested that the ballot and records rooms could have separate locks installed with keys only accessible to certain staff members. This would alleviate concern as access to the building would be very limited, and access to the ballots and machines would be even more restricted to only Adams and Timmons. In an emergency, either individual could pass their key on to a board member. The board decided on this solution and adopted a ballot security plan.
The board discussed changes to the poll worker list, including replacing some workers and relocating others. They also discussed testing the machines, which were scheduled to be checked April 14.
Members also discussed creating Multi-Partisan Assistance Teams (MATs), which will go into local nursing homes and caring facilities to help voters who need assistance with absentee ballots. The MAT members would be trained and a representative from both the Republican and Democratic parties would be present and together at all times while helping voters. The board decided on two primary team members and two alternates.
The last day to register to vote was April 11. Absentee by mail ballots are due May 6 by 5 p.m. One-Stop Early Voting will run from April 24 to May 3, and Election Day is May 6.
The board will hold its next regular meeting on May 13 at 5 p.m., though other meetings to count absentee ballots and perform other voting preparation may be held.