Clerk’s office preps for ’18 elections
Woodford County voters will notice a few differences when they step inside the ballot box next May. First, the paper rosters of names will be replaced by an electronic polling book that Woodford County Clerk Sandy Jones describes as an “iPad-type device.” It will help election officials at each of the county’s 19 precincts make sure voters are at the right place. An experiment last year with iPads borrowed from the Woodford County School District was successful, Jones said. “That’s what proved to me that they’re going down the right path, because that helped us immensely – instead of ‘Hold on just a minute, I need to call the clerk’s office,’ and then we would be looking it up and the person’s just standing there, ‘I gotta go, I gotta go,’” Jones said. The electronic polling books will use scanners that will swipe voters’ driver’s licenses or other ID cards to ensure they’re eligible to vote, Jones said. “Which means it’s more important than ever for you, if you’ve moved (into or) within the county, to follow the law within the 10-day window of changing the address on your license,” she said. Absentee changes Other changes will make it easier for people to vote with absentee ballots. In the past, people who were elderly, disabled or unable to get to a precinct on election day had to sign an affidavit at the clerk’s office, then be mailed absentee ballots. “And I’ve had people who were brought in here and go, ‘Listen, I just pushed my mom in here. You mean I can’t take her back there and vote?’” Jones said. Next May, absentee voters will be able to cast their ballot at the Woodford County Courthouse 12 work days before the election, though Jones said she’ll likely extend that, as state law allows. That, and an upcoming school board redistricting project, will mean more work for Jones and her staff. “It’s going to be hard for us to handle it, but if it’s hard for an elderly person or a disabled person to be able to get in and out of the precinct, and it’s easier to wheel them in here, no line … it’s nice for the voter,” she said. School board districts Jones said the Woodford County School Board will soon issue a redistricting plan to comply with state law requiring each of its five districts be within two percent of the population of the others. That, along with the impending retirements of two long-time employees, is why she asked for and received Woodford Fiscal Court’s permission to hire a new full-time employee. When the school board does reveal its redistricting plan, Jones and company will have a major task on their hands. “We have to go through all of the changes in the districts and hand-pick them all out. It’s time-intensive and it’s very critical that we get them all moved over,” she said. Voters will be notified of the change by mail. The school board redistricting could affect 2,000, and perhaps more, Woodford County voters. Ballot security Before taking office and after, President Trump claimed that the reason he lost the popular vote was that millions of people had cast illegal votes – all of whom, he implied, voted for Hillary Clinton. Election experts of both political parties have dismissed the claim, but since then, Jones and her staff have had to deal with an increasing number of people worried about election fraud. “We want to make sure that, because of Trump’s rhetoric about voting fraud and all this business – these (voting machines) will not be Internet-connected at all …” she said. She described an encounter with a person who told her he’d “heard on the news” that the type of machine used to record votes had been “tapped in on” to steal votes. She told the man that Woodford County didn’t have that type of machine. “It is secured. It’s not Internet-related at all. We all transfer it on these old dinosaur cards. These cards come back to us from each of the precincts and they’re downloaded and the votes are counted on these … MBB (mobile ballot box) cards,” she said. Each voting machine will have a MBB card, and when the polls close, the cards will be downloaded to the state Board of Elections, she said. The scanners attached to the electronic polling books will also cut the chances of election fraud, she said. “If you’re not who you say you are, you’re not going to get away with it. You can’t be a dead person walking in here and vote on a deceased person’s registration. That’s not going to happen – unless you stole the driver’s license and (election officials are) looking at them and going, ‘Well, you don’t look like you’re 80-years-old.’ So that’s going to be a big tool as far as identification, receiving the correct ballot and being at the correct precinct. That’s going to enhance all three areas of that,” she said.