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Update: Mr. Meyers has clarified that his complaint did make it to the State Board of Election Commissioners. This article has been updated to reflect this new information.
The Baxter County Election Commission met last Thursday, Jan. 11 to discuss poll worker and poll judge training, a preliminary emergency plan and voting machine complaint procedures.
Basic poll working training begins at 9:00 a.m. to at least 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 for the first session. Poll judge training will occur on the same day from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. as well as on Jan. 25.
Additional basic poll training sessions will occur on Jan. 25th, 26th and 30th, at the same times mentioned. Absentee processing training will occur on Feb. 6 at 9:00 a.m.
All training sessions will be at the courthouse on the second floor.
A plan for any emergency
An initial draft document titled “Plan for Election Continuity in Emergencies” was presented publicly which includes basic procedures for securing both poll workers and materials if any disruption to voting occurs due to the following reasons: threats, bomb threats, gas leaks, power outages, floods, fire, tornados and snow or ice storms.
“This right here is a plan that I’ve put together– we had one, it was outdated. I redid this one, and it’s going to go out to every location,” said Lindsay Roberts, Baxter County Election Coordinator.
The commission plans on meeting again on Monday, February 12th at 9:00 a.m. to further discuss and flesh out these contingency plans as well as do a tabletop exercise and go through the “what ifs” of what could happen during an election.
Voting machine complaint forms
During a previous election when Judy Garner was Chair of the Commission, Baxter County citizen Hap Myers claimed to have an issue with the electronic touchscreen voting equipment and properly selecting his chosen candidate.
At the time, he said he spoke to two poll workers about the problem he was facing but neither provided him a complaint form.
The next day, he was provided a complaint form by Commissioner Gary Smith, who is currently the Chairman of the Commission. While Myers did fill out the form, it did not make it to the Secretary of States Office as required. The form made it to the State Board of Election Commissioners.
Smith said the BCEC would send complaint forms by certified mail to ensure they arrive to the Secretary of States Office and the State Board of Election Commissioners.
The voter machine complaint forms are used by voters to submit a formal complaint about any issue they may have experienced while voting. The forms are mailed to the Secretary of State and the State Board of Election Commissioners where an investigation is started by staff and recommendations are made.
Smith recommended moving forward to send the complaint forms via registered mail so that they are adequately documented as sent. Additionally, Smith stressed that if a voter did have an issue with the touchscreen voting equipment, it would immediately be taken out of service and a calibration test will be run by at least one commissioner, ideally two, and a poll judge.
“Now, my plan to action for–if we get it– same as last time, that machine is immediately taken out of service,” said Smith.
After the calibration test, the poll judge and election commissioner will observe at least two voters. After they finish voting, they will double-check with each one that their selections on screen match those printed on the paper ballot.
The voting machine complaint forms will be available to voters at every voting center should a voter have an issue with a machine and would like to formalize their complaint.
The commission will meet again on Feb. 12 at 9:00 a.m. in the third-floor conference room at the courthouse. The public is welcome to attend.