(Herald-Times (Bloomington, IN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 08--Monroe County's technical services department lost six people from July 2013 to March. With elections coming up this year, it's unlikely that the departmental turmoil will have any effect on the processes.
The Monroe County Clerk's Office will contract out technical support for every polling site for both primary and general elections, as well as early voting.
It's a decision the Monroe County Election Board made after seeing how well using a few floating tech helpers worked during the 2012 election. It helped alleviate most of the problems before they got out of control during the election, but this year the board decided to add even more.
Clerk Linda Robbins said that with the addition of electronic poll books, the county has a very technologically advanced system and requires extra tech help. All polling sites need to be outfitted with wireless Internet connections, either from the location or through wireless cards, to ensure the e-poll books can connect to the state's voter registration server.
"We felt that it was better to assign a troubleshooter to each location," Robbins said.
The contractors will be setting up voting equipment at each location, as well as troubleshooting throughout the day.
The technical service contractors also will be trained to help with traditional poll worker duties during down times.
The switch to e-poll books raised some concerns from longtime poll workers, but Robbins assures that it will help ease the Election Day process by eliminating the need to keep count or look up polling locations for those in the wrong spot.
"I think they will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is," Robbins said.
The board of commissioners was scheduled to vote on the e-poll books contract Friday, but tabled it because of a question on the contract.
With such a high need for IT help, Angie Chalfant, commissioners administrator, said that it would have been hard for the county's technical services department to keep track of Election Day plus regular county functions.
"Even if we get to full staff, we weren't capable to be at each polling site," Chalfant said.
Because of the outsourcing, there's no rush for the county to restructure its IT department, though officials would like to move as quickly as possible. Chalfant said the audit of the county's IT infrastructure will be completed around the end of this month, and the official restructuring process will start sometime after that.
There's no plan for how the restructuring will work, and Chalfant said the plan is to gather government officials from the county, city and surrounding areas together to talk about how to run an IT department effectively. With several open positions, it's a good opportunity to review all positions in the department.
"We keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different response," Chalfant said.
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