By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Facing unprecedented operational and budget challenges, the Canadian County Election Board is seeking grant funds to help cover added election 2020-related expenses.
Canadian County Commissioners, at their Sept. 28th meeting, approved the county election board’s grant application to the non-profit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL).
Canadian County’s election board chief explained how her office will use the funding.
“I had to have additional absentee materials printed because I ran out,” Canadian County Election Board Secretary Wanda Armold said. “I’m going to include that printing cost if I can.
“I will use it, hopefully, for all the part-time help I’ve got coming in here to help us. And then, hopefully, for the overtime expenses for my staff working such long hours.”
Canadian County Election Board personnel have been tasked with processing a significant increase in absentee ballots and voter registration documents during this presidential election year.
The election board secretary also hopes to use grant funds to help cover increased supplies and postage costs.
“My God, my postage bill is phenomenal,” Armold said. “I’m going to have extra boards to help process absentee ballots, and they’re going to need their own staples, tape, scissors, letter openers, Post-it Notes, all that kind of stuff.”
Deadline was this week for Armold to submit the application and it will take the election board about two weeks to receive the grant.
More than 1,100 applications already have been received for CTCL’s COVID-19 Response Grant Program to provide funding to U.S. local election offices.
$250 MILLION FOR SUPPORT
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have committed $250 million to CTCL.
These funds will be regranted to local election jurisdictions across the country to help ensure they have the staffing, training and equipment needed so every eligible voter can participate in a safe and timely way – and have their vote counted.
The $250 million will support: Poll worker recruitment, hazard pay and training; polling place rental, temporary staffing support, drive-through voting, equipment to process ballots and applications, personal protective equipment for poll workers, and nonpartisan voter education from cities and counties.
There is a “desperate need for funding” at election offices across the U.S., according to the CTCL website:
“We’ve heard this from countless election officials, from across the political spectrum, geographic boundaries and jurisdiction sizes. The COVID-19 pandemic brings unprecedented challenges that most election budgets aren’t equipped to handle.”
While experts estimate it will take about $4 billion in funding to successfully administer 2020 elections, Congress had allocated $400 million to date.
Based in Chicago, Ill., the CTCL’s stated goals are to “foster a more informed and engaged democracy” and help “modernize U.S. elections”.