County to purchase mobile voting with grant funds

Douglas County Elections and Voter Registration Director Milton Kidd said the purchase of a mobile voting unit will make voting in the county easier.

In an effort to help ease voting lines and address emergency issues, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to utilize grant money to purchase a voting bus.

During last week’s virtually board meeting, the BOC approved the purchase of a $371,553 bus that can ease long lines and serve as a pop-up component during early and regular voting.

“With the addition of this mobile voting unit, we will be able to address underserved segments of the Douglas County community that may have a more difficult time reaching our early voting locations,” county Elections and Voter Registration Director Milton Kidd said.

“I’m glad we passed this because it will make voting even easier as we can pull up and allow our seniors or others to come out to the bus,” County Commissioner Henry Mitchell said. “It is a good convenience and it allows greater access.”

Commissioner Ann Jones Guider said rural and underserved areas should benefit from the mobile unit.

“I think it can be used in all areas of the county,” she said.

According to Kidd, it will take about seven months to get the bus in operation.

Grant money was obtained through the Center for Tech and Civic Life.

“This mobile voting unit will also allow us to participate in the training and voter education of our electorate here in Douglas County,” Kidd said. “We thank the organization of the Center for Tech and Civic Life for recognizing the great work that Douglas County Elections Office is doing and choosing to invest in the office.”

Once in use, the bus will also help in case of emergencies at polling places, like the loss of power at a precinct. Kidd said if long lines develop, his office can deploy the bus for additional voting.

He said the bus will also be used for voter registration drives and outreach to voters throughout the county.

The county saw very few problems during the Nov. 3 presidential election, which had record turnout throughout the state. Over half of the county’s active voters utilized early voting and mail-in ballots to vote.

Although the initial purchase of the bus doesn’t come with a cost, Mitchell pointed out that the upkeep and maintenance will fall on the county.

“There is always a cost,” Mitchell said. “We have to get insurance, pay a driver and buy gas. There is operational cost that we have to be mindful of as we move forward.”

During the recent early voting process, nearby Fulton County unveiled two customized vehicles that served as mobile voting precincts to help ease long waiting lines in the southern part of the county.

The mobile units in Fulton came with a combined $750,000 price tag according to published reports.