Find yourself in need of holding an election? The Arlington County Electoral Board soon may be able to help.
Board members voted 3-0 on Dec. 16 to move forward on a policy that would allow political parties and, potentially, other groups to rent equipment and use election-office personnel during their own elections.
“It’s a great public service,” said Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, who was joined by board chairman Charlene Bickford and vice chairman Matt Weinstein in backing the measure.
Some of the details remain to be fleshed out, but under the draft policy, qualifying organizations would be able to rent a maximum of two voting-machine scanners, two Americans with Disabilities Act ballot-marking machines and up to 15 electronic pollbooks, which are used to determine whether a person is registered to vote.
Those doing the renting also would have to reimburse the cost of election-office staff supervising use of the equipment, as well as the cost of transporting the machines.
Using county-government equipment likely would make it easier for Arlington political parties in holding nominating caucuses. But not everyone thinks that is a good idea.
“Political parties are private clubs – government should not be involved in partisan politics,” said Michael Cantwell, who spoke in opposition to the measure at the Electoral Board meeting.
If political parties or other groups want to rent equipment, “half a dozen firms can easily provide that service,” he said.
McGeary countered that political parties are specifically mentioned in state elections law, and that assistance has been rendered to them in the past. He pointed to the use of county-government equipment (secure ballot boxes) when he was Arlington County Republican Committee chairman several decades ago.
Weinstein, a Democratic appointee to the panel, said having county election equipment to tabulate results would “promote the confidence voters can have in all manner of elections in Arlington.”
The voting scanners that would be rented out would be ones used by the elections office for training purposes, not those that are operational on Election Day.
“We don’t want to do anything that would compromise the security of our equipment,” county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.
That was a view echoed by Bickford, like Weinstein a Democratic appointee to the panel. “Security should be our top priority,” she said.
And if there are two groups that want the equipment on the same date? Requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]