Miller County, AR– At the June meeting of the Miller County Quorum Court, Linda Crawford, Miller County Election Coordinator, informed Justices of the Peace that County Judge Roy John McNatt signed a contract for new voting equipment with the state vendor, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska.
The Quorum Court has been working for the past several months to secure the County’s portion of funding in the event the Secretary of State’s office had additional funding available. In April 2017, The Secretary of State’s office sent a letter to each of the 63 counties who did not have new voting equipment. The letter stated that limited funds were available to counties on a fifty percent partnership with the Secretary of State paying 50% and each county contributing the remaining 50%.
Because of the foresight of Election Coordinator Linda Crawford, the Miller County Elections Commission, the Quorum Court and the County Judge, Miller County was able to immediately send a return letter to the Secretary of State confirming Miller County’s 50% share of the funding was in place. The total cost of new voting equipment for the thirteen poll locations, early voting at the Courthouse, and the new system for election night reporting is approximately $400,000.00.
The new machines will be used during the 2017 School Elections.
The equipment will arrive in approximately 200 boxes which will be unloaded, assembled, tested, and stored with the assistance of ES&S.
ES&S will then spend three days training all election officials on the use of the new machines.
In 2002, Congress passed a Help American Vote Act; all states were mandated to implement voting systems by 2006, and the federal government funded 95% if the costs to all States. Arkansas chose ES&S as the vendor; our Ivotronic voting machines had a life span of 9-10 years. This system has served us well until recently when various equipment parts began to present problems. In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly appropriated $30 million for the new voting equipment; however, that appropriation was not funded.
In May of 2016, the Miller County Election Commission authorized Election Coordinator Linda Crawford to begin an effort to obtain new voting equipment on behalf of all of the 63 Counties who did not have new equipment at that time. Senators Jimmy Hickey, Larry Teague; Representatives Carol Dalby, DeAnn Vaught, and Lane Jean as well as other legislators in SW Arkansas supported the effort to fund everyone during the 2017 Legislative Session.
Election Commission Chairman, Brandon Cogburn, along with four others from across the state testified about the funding needs before an Election Subcommittee. Near the end of the session, a committee vote to keep the funding effort alive failed by one vote.
At the request of the State Board of Election Commissioners, Miller County has been asked to host and lead semi-annual meetings for 14 Southwest Arkansas Counties. The purpose of these sessions will be to keep the area informed of changes in state laws, upcoming legislation, and to provide feedback to our legislators concerning legislation that may have a positive or negative effect on elections. The first meeting was held May 23 at Hempstead Hall in Hope, Arkansas.
Miller County Election Officials are: Election Commission Chairman Brandon Cogburn, Commissioner Clinton Thomas, Commissioner Charlotte Fuller, Miller County Clerk Stephanie Harvin, and Election Coordinator Linda Crawford.
Miller County Quorum Court members are: Jimmy Cowart, Eric Darden, Jimmy Hickey Sr., John Haltom, Andy LaGrone, Thornton Mitchell, Charles Nettles, Ernest Pender, Carl Standridge, Lois Toombs, and Rodney Watkins.
The Miller County Judge is Roy John McNatt.
The Four States News would like to note that Miller County, Arkansas, the elected officials, future candidates, and voting citizens owe a great amount of gratitude to Miller County Elections Coordinator Linda Crawford. Without her on-going dedication, coordination, follow through and follow up efforts the prospect of much needed elections equipment for the county would have been bleak at the best. Thank you Linda for all you continue to do for Miller County, Arkansas.