ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - The Angelina County elections administration has been working on plans to ensure this year’s election process is safe and strategic during COVID-19.
Election Administrator, Elizabeth Hawkins, said she began thinking of ways they’d have to adjust voting procedures as soon as they had to close their doors to the public with the stay home orders.
“I automatically started thinking for the future because from my understanding with everything going on, I wanted to make sure that we were well prepared and make that voter and make the workers feel like they are going to be safe,” Hawkins said.
A number of items were discussed at commissioners court today that would help Hawkins and her staff move forward. One being to receive approval to purchase just over $11 thousand for 67 check-in protective shields.
“They would come in, there would be a shield at each tablet,” Hawkins said. “So that the worker would actually be able to have a barrier and then the voter would have that barrier and have that security that nothing is going to happen.”
Another item discussed and approved was the purchase of a ballot on demand printing system and software license which will allow for in-house ballot printing.
“So what’s going to happen if we do have an influx of ballot by mail that comes in, we are able to provide it from our office and be able to get that ballot by mail out a lot quicker,” Hawkins said.
In discussion with the secretary of state, Hawkins said they are expecting a rise in ballot by mail. With her current staff, she said they would struggle to manage that.
“So our office would not be able to handle an influx of ballot by mail,” she said. “We would be here 24/7. What this up to ten people I’m requesting is to be able to handle all of this and be able to get it out in a timely manner.”
Hawkins said they plan to disinfect all touch surfaces as voters go in and out, provide hand sanitizer, and have those barriers between staff and voters.
“We just want to make sure that the voters know that we are trying to implement everything we can to help them,” Hawkins said. “As well as our workers to feel like they’re safe and they are able to come in a sanitized area and exercise their right to vote.”
Funding for these items will initially come from the elections administration budget and then be reimbursed 80 percent through the CARES act grant (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).