Austin County commissioners voted last week to train personnel to comprise a “central counting station” to make elections run more efficiently.
The next county election is set for Nov. 6.
Tax Assessor-Collector Kim Rinn, who also serves as the county’s elections clerk, said the group of six would be in charge of tabulating votes on election night and would be paid out of her departmental budget.
“When I ran for office, it was recommended to me that I consider it,” Rinn said. “After going through a few election cycles, and the amount of stress imposed on me on election night as well as my staff, I saw it to be a positive. This will pull myself and my staff away from the tabulating process. This will allow the public to be more comfortable with our whole process.”
The timing is good because new equipment will be used in the next election and Rinn said they’ll be training poll workers from Austin County’s Democratic and Republican parties.
“We’ve come up with a good group of people who we believe will be unbiased,” Rinn said. “This is a long-term commitment.”
Commissioner Randy Reichardt pointed out that Rinn was elected to her position by Austin County residents.
“That evidently means that they trust you,” he said.
Reichardt’s motion to approve the request was unanimously approved.
“I’m probably one of the only people who knows what it feels like to be sitting on the outside and what it feels like to be sitting on the inside,” Rinn said. “It’s not that we were ever doing anything incorrectly; I just felt like this was the best way to handle it.”
The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9. Early voting runs from Oct. 22 through Nov. 2.
In other matters, commissioners:
• Accepted a donation deed of 0.0471 acres of land at the corner of Walnut and Missouri streets in New Ulm.
• Approved a request from Seminole Pipeline to convert its pipeline from natural gas to crude oil.
• Approved a proposal to institute a $175 charge for treatment/no transport EMS calls. These calls occur when medication is administered but the patient refuses transport.
• Approved a 3 percent increase in compensation for Dr. Benjamin Oei as the Austin County EMS medical director for fiscal year 2018-2019.