BELLEFONTE — The Centre County Board of Commissioners approved a measure at the Aug. 15 meeting requesting proposals for transportation services to deliver and pick up voting equipment for the 2023 general election.
“The proposal to contract out the moving of elections equipment was reviewed by the Board of Elections and they had one primary comment regarding security during the delivery of the equipment,” county administrator John Franek explained. “So, what we’ve done is we’ve incorporated in a chain of custody that would be utilized, and a county employee would accompany all the deliveries.”
Ideally, someone would be at each precinct to receive the equipment; if not, timestamp pictures would be taken so the equipment is never out of view of county personnel.
Transportation and moving companies will bid to transport voting and elections equipment to each of the county’s approximately 88 polling locations. All bidders must provide qualifications, licenses, prior experience, personnel listings and their financial status, which will then be evaluated by a committee made up of qualified individuals within the county. The companies also must fill out a technical form showing they have the transportation equipment needed and adequate personnel to move the elections equipment.
BOC Chair Mark Higgins said the facilities department has been handling the transportation of elections equipment in Centre County “for centuries.”
“They have done a lot of the setup and teardown, which means a lot of the things in the county buildings don’t actually get taken care of in that two-week period,” he said.
According to Franek, the model is currently used by multiple other counties in the state and is not new to the election’s director despite being a new process to Centre County. Additionally, the facilities department is on standby to do what they have done in previous elections if a satisfactory moving service is not found.
There will be submission periods for bidders to ask questions before the proposals are reviewed in the second week of September. A notice of contract would then be presented to the BOC on Sept. 26 for approval.
“This is a pretty big deal, and I would suggest that when we get those proposals that the commissioners would have an opportunity to review them to make sure all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted because this is an important process that the folks need to understand the gravity of what it is they’re doing and the responsibility that they’re assuming,” Commissioner Steve Dershem said.
Bidders will be required to attend a mandatory on-site proposal meeting to get a picture of what exactly will be required of them.
The request for proposal was approved unanimously by the BOC.
“We’ve always been running the equipment; now hopefully we’ve got people to help out,” Higgins said. “At some point, we’ll have to look at this carefully, and we need to make sure that we do have county staff monitoring everything moving around.”
Election Day is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7.