Election coordinator explains duties

Preparing for the upcoming Sept. 18 school elections and general election Nov. 6 is time-consuming for employees of the Jefferson County Election Commission, Will Fox, the commission’s elections coordinator, told the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club Thursday.

“We have a very sound, solid system in Arkansas,” he told members of the civic organization meeting at the Pine Bluff Country Club,” adding that elections in the state were once run by political parties.

Preparing electronic voting machines can be complicated, he said, noting that each precinct will have different races on the ballots: The county is split between two congressional districts; 13 justice of the peace districts; two state Senate and five state House districts; four municipal wards in Pine Bluff; three each in White Hall and Redfield; and board zones in four school districts.

Redistricting is required every 10 years following the federal census for the districts, wards and zones to reflect population shifts, Fox explained.

“There is no way to describe how nervous I was before the primaries this year,” Fox told Rotarians.

More than 300 poll workers staff 40 polling sites an average of seven days every two years, he noted. “These people are devoted, but they are not perfect” and can make mistakes.

Poll workers can ask for prospective voters to furnish identification at polling stations, Fox said in response to a question, but the voters are not required to furnish identification under state law.

“I think people need to substantiate who they are,” Fox added, noting furnishing identification is a requirement for most businesses before they will accept a check.

The electronic voting machines utilized in the county include audit logs, both electronically and on paper, in addition to an internal device that can only be accessed by the Omaha, Neb., manufacturer.

The county court clerk serves as the permanent vote registrar, he said, while the commission oversees elections.