The Pulaski County Election Board is preparing for the worst case scenario, and they’re asking the Sheriff’s Department and EMA for help.
During this week’s Election Board meeting, a conversation was held about preliminary steps that could be taken to ensure voting continues during unforeseen events on Election Day. That may be something as major as a natural disaster; or something as small as a power outage at one of the polling sites.
Election Board member Jon Frain says they’re prepared to operate for a short period with their E-Poll books.
“The morning of the election, those ipads, those E-Polls books, will be updated with the most current information,” says Frain. “So even if they’re not connected to the internet 100-percent of the time, they’ll still work properly. But if we have a power failure where the internet goes out, then what?”
To start, the Election Board proposed a memorandum of understanding that would allow the Election Board to use generators in the instance of a power loss. Part of Pulaski County’s transition to a vote center model included plans submitted to the state outlining their desire to work with other departments to ensure voting continues smoothly in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
In the past, Pulaski County has simply substituted paper ballots during a power loss. The new E-Poll books’ battery back-ups have sufficient energy to tally the votes, and even print to make ballot counting proceed in a timely manner. Frain says this is an age of being concerned about what ifs.
“It’s hard to talk about, because you don’t want to think about the worst case scenario on Election Day,” says Frain. “But, it’s great to have that cooperation and I think, again, it’s what makes Pulaski County easy that we don’t have to go through a bunch of hoops to get help, that you guys are here.”
Both the Sheriff and EMA Director agreed to continue conversations about the emergency back-up preparations.
The Election Board says that if the disaster is to a scale that the county shuts down, they would await state instruction for a contingency to make up for the vote. The memorandum of understanding still requires approval by the County Commissioners.