In an effort to stem long waits at the poll, early voting will be moved from the Crawford County Courthouse to the Emergency Operations Center beginning with the May 20 primary elections.
Crawford County Clerk Teresa Armer is using grant money to purchase everything necessary to convert the EOC into a fully operating poll site, she said.
The site will have 10 iVotronic, or touch-screen, voting machines with privacy curtains, room inside for waiting and plenty of parking, Armer said.
“You will not have a long wait in line; we’ll be able to process people faster,” Armer said. “It will be a nonstop process.”
That was the point of the move, said Crawford County Judge John Hall.
“This is strictly to make it more convenient for people who early vote,” Hall said.
During a recent intergovernmental meeting, Hall mentioned a fight that nearly broke out during early voting for the general election in 2012 because one person accused another of “cutting” in line.
“What he doesn’t know, is it’s like that every year,” Armer commented on Hall’s statement after the meeting.
Hall expects the number of residents who vote early to continue to increase, he said.
“Because everybody has busy lives, but they don’t want to take a chance on missing the vote,” Hall said. “It’s your one chance every two years to have a say in government.”
Hall oversees the county road department, which will be paving an area to add an additional 20-30 parking spots to the lot, he said.
Money for the voting equipment is coming from two state grants, Armer said. Her office received a $10,732 grant last year specifically for purchasing or upgrading voting equipment, and Armer said she expects to receive another this year for $15,379.
She also is receiving three laptops on loan from the sheriff’s department, saving her office the cost of purchasing them, she said.
A wheelchair accessible ramp will be constructed in front of the EOC using the last of funds - about $4,100 - left in an ADA grant the clerk’s office received years ago, Armer said.
One voting booth also will be designated as handi-capped accessible, she said.
County employees are working to ensure no electrical cords will cross the area of the floor designated for the polling site, Armer said.
Armer emphasized that voting for school board and special elections will still take place in her office in the Crawford County Courthouse. All inquiries and issues related to voting also should be directed to her office, she said.
Armer noted that state law now requires individuals to show state or federal photo identification to vote. She also said that any questions during early voting should be posed to her office by phone, as she will not be able to access her email from the poll site.