2010-10-27 / Local News

Vote machine public test deadline missed – ballots to be hand counted

Clerk hires election consultants
By Debbie Lowe
Staff writer

The Carroll County Election Board paid consultants Election Systems and Software (ES&S) to train board members Denise Strasser and clerk Nancy Mattox to perform the necessary duties and responsibilities for the Nov. 2 general election.

The cost for the two-day training was $3,150. The public test for the voting machines was scheduled by the election board for Oct. 21, two days after the statutory deadline date. The clerk’s two employees were both absent from work for three days prior to the day scheduled for the test and Mattox was left to cover the office by herself.

The clerk said Thursday that she did not think that she was trained sufficiently to perform the public test and that she was not able to adequately prepare for it. Mattox admitted that the statutory deadline for the test to be done was Oct. 19. The clerk stated the test had to be performed regardless of the deadline and she decided to hire ES&S to do that in addition to ensure that all tasks associated with next week’s general election are completed.

Mattox said she did not consult with the other election board members, Strasser and John Brown, before she made the decision to increase the budget deficit for the election board. She said she was “running out of time and short staffed.”

“I made the call that we hire them,” she said.

Mattox said the three were in the office together Monday morning to mark test ballots to use in the test. She emphasized that she did not feel comfortable that she possessed the skills needed to do the work.

Mattox said she did not know how much it is going to cost the taxpayers for the assistance, which will be $1,575 each day they work for the county. She said she calculated that she will need them at least three, perhaps four days. The cost for four days will be $6,300 for a total for the election of $9,450.

Mattox has an outstanding bill from ES&S for $7,275 from the May Primary election. She received approval for an additional appropriation from the general fund for that expenditure earlier on Thursday.

The election board estimated in September that they will spend between $23,000 and $25,000 more than their approved 2010 spending plan. Mattox said it is “up to the (county) council” to find the funding for the added expenses. She said the clerk’s perpetuation fund cannot be used.

Mattox said that although she knows the Indiana Code dictates that if the public test deadline is not met, the ballots must be hand counted, she said she did not know what is involved with the process or if there is a cost associated with it. She said the answers to those questions will be determined at a later date.

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