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Northampton receives grant funds for Board of Elections

JACKSON – The Northampton Commissioners received good news about elections grant funding at their regular meeting here recently.

The county has received a total of $229,255 in grants since last September, reported Spinosa Clements, Northampton County Board of Elections Director. Those funds have come from the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), the HAVA grant (Help America Vote Act), the NC Community Foundation Election Admin Assistance Fund, and CTCL funds (Center for Tech and Civic Life).

Clements updated the commissioners on how those funds were used during last year’s election period.

The county received $74,080 from the CARES Act which was used in base funding and One-Stop (early) voting funding. Some of those supplemental funds were used to cover specific election day expenditures and to provide Election Day poll workers with a bonus.

The NC Community Foundation grant provided $29,000 for personnel expenditures during the election to include additional election officials and additional part-time staff for the election office.

After the election, the state disbursed funds to each county from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). Those funds were allocated to officials who worked during the One-Stop voting period. Clements stated that Northampton received $13,868 which was calculated based on the number of officials and the number of days each official worked.

The largest amount of grant funding, however, came through the HAVA grant. Northampton was awarded $112,307 of this money. A little over $5,000 was used to acquire four new laptops for use during early voting.

But the biggest news Clements shared was that the majority of the HAVA funds completely covered the $107,106 total cost of the county’s new voting tabulators.

The commissioners approved purchasing the 20 new tabulators in Aug. 2020 with county funds that were already budgeted in this fiscal year. The previous equipment was over a decade old and close to the end of its projected lifetime of use. The new tabulators were tested during last year’s March primary, and were also used during for the General Election in November.

But because HAVA money could be used to update voting equipment, they requested reimbursement for the tabulator purchase and it was approved.

“This is huge for us,” said Board Chair Charles Tyner with surprise at the announcement.

County Manager Charles Jackson noted these grants meant they wouldn’t have to spend taxpayer money on the tabulators, removing a debt the county would have had to pay for the next few years.

“Thank you,” Tyner concluded. “Continue to do the job you’re doing. You’re doing well and saving us money too.”