Cape Girardeau County awarded grant for poll worker training, new technology purchases

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Electronic poll books and a new scanner are among the items on Cape Girardeau County Clerk Kara Clark Summers' wish list that she expects will be filled, thanks to a state grant.

Announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, the $82,889 grant is designed to help Cape Girardeau County purchase the new technology, provide maintenance to voting machines and cover some of the costs associated with training poll

workers.

"I'm very grateful for these grants that we're able to secure through the state because it cuts down on the cost that the county has to spend," Summers said. "There's a lot of paperwork involved to apply for these grants, but it's worth the effort."

Summers must now research the technology, advertise for bids and buy the equipment. The county will be reimbursed. She hopes to spend the grant money before the August

elections.

The new technological purchases Summers hopes to make include replacing a scanner that is "on its last legs" and electronic poll books, which are computers that keep a record of a voter's name and address as well as allows for voters to sign in at a precinct. At a cost of about $1,000 each, the e-poll books would replace the paper-based poll book used by the county. The books would not allow for the casting of any ballots.

Another piece of equipment Summers would like to buy with the grant money is a system allowing poll judges to be alerted when a voter arrives who is unable to walk from his or her car into the precinct. Under the current circumstances, the person driving that individual must walk inside the precinct and alert a judge to hand-deliver the ballot to the vehicle. But the new device would eliminate the need for anyone to come inside the precinct to alert the judge.

In addition to the new technology, the grant would provide $24,350 for routine maintenance on the county's voting equipment and reimburse the county $5,524 for some costs associated with poll worker training. Before each election poll workers complete a one-day training session that prepares first-timers for the rules they must follow while providing a refresher for veterans. The county pays $15 plus meals and drinks for each training

day.

"When you work one, two or three elections a year, it can be easy to forget all the details," Summers said. "This grant money will help refresh their memories so they can do their best to serve the citizens on election day."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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