published Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Polk election office addresses security, budget issues

By Paul Leach

BENTON, Tenn. — Polk County Election Administrator Steve Gaddis reported changes in office security and presented the proposed 2011-12 budget to election commissioners this week.

Gaddis, who replaced interim administrator Melitte McCoy in late April, said the transition did not occur as smoothly as he had hoped, mainly because of technical hiccups.

“The computers were down, and we were without passcodes, but we are at 100 percent now,” Gaddis said Thursday. “At worst, it was an inconvenience.”

However, Gaddis said that once he addressed hands-on computer security issues, that led to an immediate policy change: no more wireless access.

While the election office no longer provides wireless Internet access, Gaddis said he doesn’t believe earlier access had compromised the security of the office’s records. He said he felt it was an unnecessary risk after reviewing the matter with state election personnel.

“I won’t call it a major security issue, but I see no reason to have wireless,” he said.

Gaddis and election commissioners also reviewed the proposed budget of $152,560, which is more than $20,000 less than the current budget of $176,396.

Most of the reduction — $17,500 — comes from election worker pay. Gaddis said that, with only one election in the budget cycle as opposed to two, he simply cut the cost in half.

Election commissioners approved the budget proposal 5-0.

In other business, election commissioners agreed they are at a standstill in regard to the upcoming voter redistricting project, at least until the election office receives official population data from the state.

“We have no reason to start that horse running until we get our packet,” Gaddis said.

He said he believed the state’s population data and related redistricting material were due to arrive by the end of the month.

Election Commission Secretary Freeman Curbow said the commission may need to address the needs of Reliance, Tenn., voters in case their polling location, Springtown Fire Hall, is sold.

If the fire hall is sold and the community does not have another suitable polling locale, a possible solution would be to let Reliance residents vote at the Greasy Creek Community Club, Curbow said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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