Jefferson County election commissioner Stu Soffer provided Deltaplex News the following statement on Thursday evening November, 5, 2020.
The primary reason given for problems opening the polls in Jefferson County on election day was poll workers not being familiar with the new equipment. I agree although the issue runs deeper to recruiting shortfalls. You take who applies and am thankful. As Secretary McNamara said, “You go to war with the Army you have”, and as I understand events, many did a good job.
We provided solid comprehensive training by experienced poll judges whose demographics mirrored the audience. Every attendee received a “how to” brochures so they had something to hold in their hand when opening the polls. A step by step. and a one page cheat sheet for opening the Express Vote and DS-200 tabulator. Please note three of the attached documents are short, one page cheat sheets which should have been easy to follow. ES&S did not provide training materials for all poll workers and the county spent close to $3,000 to reproduce them and others for training facilitators, technicians and responders. There was also a copy in each polling site’s policy binder. My personal opinion is those who encountered opening problems were not able to comprehend the material or just did not refer to it which would be my best guess.
Obviously we need to review training but on the record my belief after doing this since 2003 is the root problem is not having an election qualified coordinator. The current and past two judges used the position for patronage and to prove there could be an African-American coordinator. Look where that got us. The current coordinator at least shows up on occasion and has made contributions but he is certainly not knowledgeable or ready to solo. Not having a qualified administrative support person (i.e. we don’t need a “coordinator”, killed the recruiting and upward mobility program. We have been ignored in advocating hiring a brilliant African-American woman who caught several mistakes I make this past election. She is sharp, and what Jefferson County needs to avoid another election disaster.
You are welcome to quote me on any and all of the foregoing because if needed change is not made, the same election disasters are going to occur, probably worse because I have the institutional knowledge and am cutting back. If the treatment continues successfully, I intend to stand for reelection in January because redistricting is in 2022 and I have that experience from 2011. However, I am cutting back administratively. George Stepps is not trained or qualified to fill the void. Nice man, do not get me wrong and the best of the three coordinators forced on us but not ready to solo. Tameka Reed is training, smart and ready to step in. That is not going to happen unless the light of day is shone on this problem.
Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!
Stuart D. Soffer, Secretary
Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners