The last time you saw your ballot on Election Day, it disappeared into a little black box. The only evidence you had that you voted was a little patriotic sticker, which you either proudly slapped to the front of your shirt or quickly crumpled into a wad. From your polling place, ballots then went to the warehouse-sized Records Retention Center, at 5550 Morris Hill Road, next to the Ada County Coroner's Office, for counting.
But that will change in the next election.
Ada County purchased a building on Benjamin Lane near the Boise Town Square Mall late last year for a new elections office. According to Chief Deputy County Clerk Christopher Rich, the move will consolidate operations, improve security over ballots, and provide space for ballot preparation.
"There was no space to house the six ballot tabulators and 20 or so people who support their operation," Rich told BW. "Our old system had three tabulators that were much smaller and only required six support personnel."
The new office will have a more secure entry system and a secure area for the ballot counting machines, Rich said.
With a growing voter population and new optical scan ballot counters, the elections office needs more room for records, staff and counting machines. Rich says that on Election Day, he needs space to bring in 100 workers to prepare the ballots.
The new building is a renovated 85,000-square-foot warehouse facility. The new space will give elections office staff and volunteers plenty of room to do their work on election night. Several county offices and satellite offices will also share the space. Some of the other offices to be located at the new building include juvenile court services, drug court services, an expanded driver's license renewal office, motor vehicle registration office and sections of the Assessor's Office.
The largest area of the building, nearly 20,000 square feet, will be used by the elections office to house administration and staff. The space will also store counting machines, which are currently held at both the courthouse and the county's Record Retention Center warehouse. According to Ada County spokeswoman Laura Wylde, the cost of relocating the elections equipment will be roughly $5,000.
In accordance with a 2003 resolution, which required that all county facilities larger than 10,000 square feet be built to environmental standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, the renovation of the Benjamin Lane building is LEED certified. The county expects to move into the new space in mid-December. The entire building is expected to open at the end of January.