Before early voting got underway this year, officials were making plans to ensure that the Lake County Board of Elections (BOE) offices where outfitted to provide as safe an environment as possible. Having a presidential election during a pandemic was an unprecedented situation that required a host of additional factors to be considered.
Knowing that its community neighbor could use some help to prepare, Lakeland Community College President Dr. Morris Beverage Jr. reached out to Ross McDonald, director for the BOE, to offer college resources to assist with the creation of protective barriers.
“Our staff at Lakeland’s makerspace, known as HIVE, had just spent months making plexiglass partitions for classrooms and offices throughout campus,” said Beverage. “In just a short period of time, they became design experts and were able to fabricate the barriers on HIVE machinery and install them throughout campus. So it made sense to offer this resource to our neighbors at the board of elections.”
With an opportunity to lend their expertise, staff were led by HIVE Maker Lead Owen Schoeniger and created the barriers in only 10 hours. The college donated 15 units to help keep separation between election officials and community members coming to the early vote center.
“As you probably have heard, early voting numbers are smashing previous highs,” said McDonald. “The plexiglass barriers were essential to protecting our election officials who have interacted with over 20,000 in-person early voters thus far. With only a few days of early voting remaining, I expect that number to climb to over 25,000.”
Additionally, during each election cycle, the BOE trains between 700–1,000 precinct election officials to support the Election Day voting process. Traditionally, this is done via an in-person training with around 40 attendees per class. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and classroom size limitations, developing an online training program would be required to accomplish this task.
“We purchased a camcorder and began filming our training videos, but we were uncertain how to go about editing and producing the content, so we turned to Lakeland for help,” said Ross.
At Lakeland’s HIVE, Schoeniger was once again able to give help and provided the BOE with a laptop equipped with video editing software, Adobe Premiere Pro, as well as tips on how to use it.
“Having access to this laptop and software enabled us to develop a very professional-looking online training for approximately 400 experienced precinct election officials. Furthermore, this freed-up our in-person training courses for new election officials who really needed hands-on training,” said Ross. “It’s really a great resource right in our backyard.”
The college’s donations and assistance allowed the BOE to redirect funding to other critical areas, such as temporary employee payroll and additional personal protective gear for workers.
“Lakeland’s generosity has made a huge and positive impact in the 2020 presidential election in Lake County. We should all applaud Lakeland Community College for making the decision to use their campus resources and talented employees to support this historic election,” said Ross.
Laptops with software for video editing as well as several other professional design programs are free to check out and use by any member of the community.
For more information visit lakelandcc.edu/hive.