Electioneering

At a Cleburne County Commission work session Monday night, Mark Radke, representative from a company called Election Systems & Software, talks to commissioners and a couple of workers from the probate office. 

HEFLIN — Representatives from Election Systems & Software Monday night presented to the Cleburne County Commission details of a system that helps a government figure out where its residents are supposed to vote.

During its work session, the commission and workers from the probate office watched as the company reps demonstrated Toshiba tablets, which electronically tabulate and identify voters when they come to the polls to vote. The company provides voter registration, tabulation, and balloting services and equipment nationwide.

The tablets eliminate the need for the paper printouts that poll workers use to identify voters, company officials told the commission. A voter can swipe his or her driver’s license in the provided scanner and then sign his or her name on the tablet.

According to Probate Judge Ryan Robertson such a system would ensure that a voter can’t vote twice. Currently poll workers use a highlighter pen to mark off voters as they vote in an election.

The tablets show maps of the area with voting districts and they can also be used to create a payroll for poll workers.

Robertson said that two years ago the county used a similar electronic system, an iPad-based system called “No ink” which he said worked fine. The Alabama Secretary of State provided the iPads free of charge and Robertson said everyone liked them.

The cost for 22 of the tablets from Election Systems & Software is $22,852.00. The commissioners discussed the need for only 5 tablets for the polling places of Heflin, Ranburne and Chulafinnee.

Cleburne County Emergency Manager Crystal Cavender said that last Tuesday the Cleburne County 911 board voted unanimously to combine the positions of 911 director and Emergency Management Agency to create the new position of emergency manager — mirroring what the Cleburne County Commission voted on recently. Cavender also said that 911 board voted unanimously to create a new position of deputy director which will serve under her.

The commissioners also discussed emails and the use of personal computers for conducting county business. They noted that when the previous county administrator, Steve Swafford, left after his contract was bought out, he took with him his personal desktop computer that he did county business on.

The commission talked about the need for a policy concerning personal devices being used for conducting county business.

Commissioner Terry Hendrix was concerned that emails on Swafford’s computer might be needed in the future.

“I’m afraid the county is going to get into trouble because we’ve got a number of lawsuits coming up and we’re probably going to need that data,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix said he could not comment on the upcoming lawsuits because county attorney Jason Odom told the commission “not to talk about that.”

Robertson, who is also the county commission chairman, said as far as he knows there has never been a policy in place.

Robertson said he uses his personal iPad on the job for county emails as well as for personal emails.

During the meeting some commissioners said that they don’t use the county email system. Robertson said there is no policy stating that a county email address has to be used.

The commission will meet for its monthly session next Monday at the Mountain Center at 5 p.m.

Staff writer and photographer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter: @BWilson_Star