Peter Hanson, Fort Oglethorpe election superintendent, told council members in a work session prior to the council's meeting Sept. 22 that the Catoosa County Board of Elections has declined vote counting responsibilities for the city's upcoming election.
Hanson said the city's optical scanner, which reads ballots marked with a No. 2 pencil, will require maintenance to function properly for the election.
The council voted unanimously to pay $2,260 to Elections Systems and Software of Nebraska for preventative maintenance and re-calibration of the scanner after it is placed in a permanent location.
You don't want to get to election night and the machine doesn't run," Hanson said. "Wherever you put it though, ballot counting has to be open and accessible to the public."
Hanson said the scanner, which was temporarily relocated from a county voting facility to the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department, needs to be re-calibrated every time it is moved to ensure proper operation.
The election superintendent and council members discussed several options for a permanent home for the machine, including placing the scanner at City Hall.
Hanson said the scanner will need to be kept secure during non-election periods and, according to federal law, easily accessible to the citizens during ballot counting.
He said if the council had refused to incur the preventative maintenance costs and elected to count ballots by hand, a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. requesting permission for a hand-count would have been required.
City Manager Paul Page said the city has budgeted $5,000 for the upcoming election.
Mayor Judd Burkhart said election costs this year, including scanner maintenance, will be minimized because the county normally charges Fort Oglethorpe a maintenance fee when they count the city's ballots.
Fort Oglethorpe residents will go to the polls Nov. 4 at Constitution Hall at 205 Forrest Road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to vote for the mayor's seat and two city council positions.
The final day to register to vote in the election is Oct. 6. For more information contact Carol Murray at Fort Oglethorpe City Hall at (706) 866-2544 ext. 201.
In other business Monday, Sept. 22 at Fort Oglethorpe City Hall, the council voted unanimously to:
*Schedule the city's Christmas parade for Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
*Approve $17,700 for August engineering fees from the engineering firm ARCADIS, Geraghty & Miller.
*Approve a work authorization to ARCADIS engineers for a $9,100 extension project on Patterson Avenue and a $7,600 sewer rehabilitation project on Beaver Road.
* Approve $2,500 in funding for the Catoosa Citizens for Literacy. Page said the money for CCL was included in the city's 2003-04 budget