Friday, May 18, 2007

Frontline Election Report

It's been a week since the election and the results are impressive. I'm not talking about who won and who lost, but how the election was ran. Here are some of my observations from a ring side seat.

Soon after the last election, the entire elections office staff had to be replaced. Mike Benton submitted his resignation and the Elections Committee had the good sense to hold him to it. After an interim director was picked from outside the office, the rest of the staff left in a huff. Vona was left with a broken system and no staff to help fix it. She started recruiting and also reached out for help. She created a citizens advisory committee (which I am on) to bring fresh perspective to the problems, and asked for help from anyone that would listen.

The staff she recruited is small (the elections office is only 4 permanent positions) but very energetic and dedicated. In addition to Vona, Vannessa, Jamie, and Rudy have all done outstanding work. They have put in long hours. They learned the job while preparing for what turned out to be a complex election with a very large turn out. The made sure that there were enough trained election judges and clerks. They planned the equipment distribution and pick up, and took steps to make sure everything needed at the polling places was there. They made a good plan and followed it.

I was in the elections office as a poll watcher, an observer asked by one of the candidates to watch the election process for problems. They were prepared. They had extra people there to help. From the time the polls opened until after they closed, there was a steady stream of calls. Additional phone numbers for poll workers, and extra cell phones kept waiting time to a minimum. There were very few calls about equipment problems, mostly because of the prior testing and attention to detail that had happened in preparation for the election. In the end, all ballots and sensitive election machinery was back in the Edd B Keyes building by 9:30, and the final tally was out before 10:30, a local record.

No longer can the national (and international) press point fingers at San Angelo and Tom Green County as a bad example. We can proudly point to this election as an example of how it should be done.

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