A secure election room at the Pettis County Courthouse is now finished, said Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada.
Federal grant money paid for the entire project, which was conceived by La Strada. “It took a little while to get the ball rolling on it, but it all came together and it’s done,” he said.
“Everything that has to do with the elections, all the equipment and supplies will all be stored in this secured room,” La Strada said on Tuesday. “We’re really excited about that, because before, it was an open room and everyone could just walk right on in.”
La Strada worked with Haulotte Construction on the design and creation of the room, which is secured by a door requiring a special code to enter.
The room, which has medium gray walls and dark gray carpeting, has rows of shelving to hold the voting machines for the various precincts.
La Strada compares votes with money in a bank vault. “From a federal to a state to a local office, I want people to know that their votes are secure,” he said. “That’s where the integrity comes in.”
The County Clerk’s office is gearing up for three elections in 2014, including April 8, Aug. 5 primary and Nov. 4 general election. The closing date for filing for the April 8 election is Jan. 21.
La Strada works with a small staff of two employees. “Most clerk’s offices the size of Pettis County has five or six,” he noted. “But we’ve done a lot of things to make it more efficient.”
Part of what his office does is getting voters engaged in the process, with voter registration drives in the area. “We try to get out there and educate the voters as much as possible,” La Strada said.
Currently, there are 26,871 registered voters in Pettis County. In the City of Sedalia, that figure is around 12,700. Those figures tend to fluctuate continuously, he noted.
He added that someone who is 17-and-a-half years old may pre-register to vote in Pettis County. “Come on up the Clerk’s office, get pre-registered, and when you turn 18, you’ll receive a voter registration card in the mail,” he said.
La Strada urged voters to bring their voter ID cards to the polling booth to make the process that much smoother and faster.
“Six weeks before election day, we have absentee voting. If you feel that you can’t make it on election day, come up to the Clerk’s Office, second floor, and absentee vote,” La Strada stressed. “We want to see people vote.”
The first precinct that gets counted on election day (after military) is usually absentee, he added. And for military personnel, absentee voting lasts seven weeks. “We have 81 military people on our list,” he noted.
The county has 19 voting machines in a normal election. That number doubles to 38 in federal elections when a touch screen is added to the polling places.
For more information, call the Pettis County Clerk’s Office at 826-5000, ext. 918. Photos courtesy Nick La Strada.