Dems will handle their own primary in August 6/9/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dems will handle their own primary in August

By Rupert Howell
Whether or not to use a “electronic poll book” has brought discourse between Panola County’s Election Commissioners and Democratic party officials by winding up in the meeting room of the board of supervisors Monday morning.

The Electronic Poll Book is a computer tablet that allows poll workers to “check-in” voters and contains other voter data and polling information. It may eventually take the place of poll books used at each precinct to identify voters.

Kaye Smythe serves on Panola County’s Election Commission and requested for that board that supervisors allow the purchase of the units that she claimed would eventually save money through less time and fewer poll workers needed with the devices.

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But Lorine Robinson with the County’s Democratic Party Executive Committee told supervisors that Panola County was not ready for the change and insinuated that commissioners were asking for a change to the electronic tablets because she had not signed a contract with the Election Commission to hold their primary election.

In the past, Election Commissioners have agreed to hold primary elections although they are actually the responsibility of the party organizations.

Election Commissioners are responsible for the November General Election as well as maintaining voter rolls. Local Republicans have agreed to allow Election Commissioners to hold their primary election that is held in conjunction with the Democrat primary scheduled for Tuesday, August 4.

Robinson said poll workers did not have enough time to learn how to use the new device prior to the upcoming election.

Stating that the Democrats have good poll workers she added, “We have poll workers who have never touched a computer—some are afraid to touch it,” she continued.

Robinson suggested the county purchase more supply boxes with funds that were to be used for the electronic tablets.

Robinson stated, “I’m not saying we won’t be ready in years to come-I’m not against moving forward, but there’s not time for this training.”

During Smythe’s presentation she agreed not to push the use of tablets until November’s General Election but Robinson wanted use of the tablet not to begin until 2016.

Smythe told supervisors, “There are a number of  counties doing it this election cycle.”

Supervisors voted to take the Election Commission’s request under advisement while Deputy Circuit Clerk Heather Turner demonstrated the tablet’s functions to several Democrats following Monday’s discussion.