Public Info

Election Commission Set To Meet In Kentucky With Local Officials

Local election officials are expected to ask President Barack Obama’s election administration commission for additional funding during a meeting Saturday in Kentucky.

Commission co-chairmen Benjamin Ginsberg and Robert Bauer are scheduled to meet with the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers during the group’s annual conference, according to association president Joanne Rajoppi. The IACREOT is expected to share information on local election practices, along with outlining how the federal government can assist going forward. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration was formed by Obama earlier this year to make recommendations for improving election administration, including looking at reducing wait times at polling places.

Rajoppi, a Democrat and county clerk of Union County, N.J., stressed that since election administration is conducted largely at the state and county level, it is important for the federal commission to gauge what is needed. In addition, she stressed that everyone involved in the election process be involved. IACREOT’s members include county officials nationally who handle elections, land records, tax collection and archival issues.

“It’s critical to get input from the people who conduct elections,” Rajoppi told The Huffington Post. “It is critical to get input from the voter. You’ve got the voter, you’ve got the people who put the election on. Candidates as well. You have to include all the statkrholders.”

Rajoppi said that she and her IACREOT colleagues plan on sharing how the federal government can help in areas like voting machines. The federal government provided assistance a decade ago to upgrade voting equipment under the terms of the Help America Vote Act and that equipment is in need of upgrades. HAVA was enacted in response to the 2000 presidential election with a goal of moving away from voting machines based on punchcards and lever equipment.

Rajoppi said equipment is not the only need, noting that poll workers will need training for any new voting equipment. She conceded that money is tight for the federal government, but noted that county governments are in the same situation.

“Certainly we are looking for more resources or more creative ways to assist us in performing our duties. Money is limited across the board,” she said. “The bottom line is you have to upgrade your equipment and you have to train your workers. Those are issues that don’t go away.”

Commission spokesman Greg Romano said the IACREOT meeting is part of the commission’s national outreach, including seeking input from local election officials. On Friday, the commission is holding a public hearing in Miami to solicit opinions from the public.

In conjunction with the hearing, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a series of recommendations to the commission Friday, including pressing for sufficient funding for elections. The Lawyers committee also listed upgraded election equipment, better planning of election administration and reviewing long lines at polling places, particularly those in largely minority neighborhoods.

Rajoppi said she is excited about the work that the commission and county officials can do going forward.

“I see it as a partnership,” she said. “I see the federal government as being a partner with us.”