Jackson Co. Election Commission To Help In Primaries

They have different political philosophies, but both Jackson County Republicans and Democrats agree touch screen voting is not something they want to handle by themselves. On Monday, the parties asked county supervisors to sign off on a deal where the election commission would do much of the leg work for upcoming primaries. The Circuit Clerk was also part of the agreement.

Jackson County Republicans and Democrats say getting hundreds of touch screen voting machines ready for an election takes time and it's time that most party members don't have.

"Because a lot of our people we work and it's hard to get out there and actually complete the task," said Troy Ross, Republican Committee Co-chair.

Election commissioners agreed to shoulder some of that burden by programming the 350 machines and preparing the electronic ballots.

Election Commission chairperson Ben Sanford said "We've estimated about 1,000 hours. That's 200 hours per commissioner."

Jackson County supervisors agreed the five commissioners should be paid a total of $16,000.

"We think it's a great thing for Jackson County that they were able to come together and present this to us," said supervisor John McKay. "Of course, we're going to pay the bill for it."

Election officials say Democrats and Republicans can expect to work even more closely in the future.

"The days of doing separate elections is over when you have touch screen machines," said Sheila Maki. "Both parties have to come together work together because the ballots for both parties will be on the same machines."

Both parties plan to do more training on the touch screen machines, but in the meantime they're happy not to have to take on the primaries alone.

Sheila Maki, chairman of the Jackson County Democratic committee said, "The election commission is going to set the machines up.  My poll workers just have to know what to do during the day and then break the machines down so I feel a lot better about them now. "

Election commissioners call the $16,000 a "trade off" for Jackson County. The county will pay commissioners for time spent programming touch screens rather than on buying large amounts of paper ballots as it did for the previous scan system.