By Nolan Madden
The face and function of Navajo County Election Services will undergo two significant and positive changes soon, approved under the direction of its new recorder, Laura Sanchez.
Sanchez this week presented the proposed updates to the Board of Supervisors by explaining some of the current challenges voters face.
“What we hope to accomplish this 2016 election cycle is to get new election equipment, move forward to a central (counting) center, implement super precincts, provide easier and more effective ways of voting for the Navajo County voters, and provide some cost saving measures as we do this,” she said.
“Currently, we do not have any operational equipment to conduct an election in Navajo County. When we started looking into new equipment, the one thing that my staff and I kept in mind was, ‘How can we make voting easier for Navajo County voters?’”
Using the newly selected ExpressVote scan terminals, voters will be able to print their ballots and, if not located near a usual polling place, can visit an alternate polling location without needing to submit a provisional ballot.
“Not only will this machine assist (voters) with disabilities, but voters without disabilities will also be able to utilize this machine. Voters will be allowed independency to cast their own ballot, make changes to selections previously made and not cause a spoiled ballot. This device prints the ballot on paper only when the votes are cast. Therefore, this will help reduce the number of preprinted ballots needed and destroyed after an election because they are not used,” she explained.
Sanchez pointed out that the county currently rents six U-Haul units to deliver election equipment and, with the new system, could cut that rental in half. The system will also allow voters to make their selections online and then, using a generated barcode, retrieve, review, modify and cast their ballot in person at any of the designated voting precincts.
Regarding the revised polling areas, Sanchez noted, “We currently have 61 precincts with 39 polling places,” so implementing super precincts and a hybrid voting process would be a win-win situation for county voters.
A super precinct combines existing voting precincts that share the same county supervisor, justice of the peace, and congressional, legislative and Northland Pioneer College districts. Based on these criteria, the 61 precincts were consolidated, resulting in 14 super precincts.
“This will mean that voters will have several voting places and are not tied to one polling place for their vote to count,” she said.
Sanchez confirmed the new voting equipment is set to arrive in December, with the county to host a mock election for registered voters to become familiar with the new system.
In other action Oct. 13, the board:
* Approved the Board of Equalization hearing officer’s recommendation on hearings conducted Sept. 23 for petition for review of real property valuation.
* Approved the sale of surplus county property by public online auction in November.
* Approved the consent agenda, including Sept. 27 meeting minutes; September 2015 warrant and voucher report over $1,000; constable reports for Holbrook Precinct No. 1 for August, Winslow Precinct No. 2 for July and September, and Show Low Precinct No. 5 for September; changes to the board of supervisors meeting schedule for December 2015; and naming an unnamed existing road in the Pinedale/Clay Springs area in Section 17, Township 10 North, Range 20 East, “Mesquite Lane.”
Also approved was a memorandum of understanding allowing the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Navajo Nation and Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office, and Navajo County to work in cooperation and partnership on transportation projects within the county, new 15 mph speed limit sign installations on Chevelon Road, Brownsfield Coalition an intergovernmental agreement extension with the City of Flagstaff, an amendment to the intergovernmental agreement between the Apache County School Superintendent, the Apache County Superior Court, the Navajo County School Superintendent and the Navajo County Superior Court; defining the educational responsibilities stemming from the closure of the Apache County Juvenile Detention Facility; Community Development Block Grant Programs (CDGB) application forms E-3.1 and E-3; appointment of Marian Gail McCollister to the Navajo County Democratic Committee as a precinct committeeman to fill an existing vacancy in precinct 59.01; and a letter to county citizens for the fiscal year 2016 budget book.
* Approved the Navajo County Library District consent agenda.
* Approved the Navajo County Public Health Services District (NCPHSD) consent agenda, including Amendment No. 2 of Contract No. ADHS14-053056 with the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program for Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, in the amount of $360,795; a memorandum of agreement with the Chinle Unified School District and Southwest Food Excellence from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2018; a memorandum of agreement with St. Michael’s Association for Special Education from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2018; a memorandum of agreement with the Heber/Overgaard Unified School District from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2018; and a memorandum of agreement with the Seba Dalkai Boarding School from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2018.
Also approved was a memorandum of understanding with Little Colorado Medical Center for a closed point of dispensing site. This memorandum will enable the district to deliver medical counter measures to LCMC in an emergency event. LCMC would then be able to provide vaccinations, antibiotics, or other medical countermeasures deemed appropriate by the Centers for Disease Control and the Arizona Department of Health Services to its employees and employees’ families, with the staff of LCMC not being required to leave the hospital to attend a point of distribution within the community.
* Approved the Navajo County Flood Control District consent agenda, including submittal of a National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System Recertification letter, qualifying Navajo County for a continued 10 percent reduction in flood insurance premiums for its citizens.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the county complex in Holbrook.