The Stennis Institute of Government has been hired to provide technical assistance to help the Board of Supervisors meet requirements under the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

The board voted unanimously to hire the agency to do the work for $2,500 at its meeting on Monday.

Earlier supervisors voted to consolidate the county's 38 voting precincts into 24 in order to more easily comply with federal mandates.

The action is pending approval by the U. S. Department of Justice.

The Stennis Institute will evaluate existing polling locations for compliance, provide recommendations and design plans for any directed changes.

The Institute will also assist in educating the public about HAVA related changes through the facilitation of local public hearings.

Other duties of the Institute will be to work with the county to develop the pre-clearance submission package to be forwarded to the Department of Justice, including the generation of digital block-equivalency files.

Technical assistance will also be available to update voter rolls with proposed changes.

Among other things, the consolidation of precincts eliminates three Native American precincts - Bogue Chitto, Tucker and Pearl River.

The Help America Vote Act is a federal response to the irregularities in voting systems and processes seen in certain states during the 2000 Presidential election.

HAVA requires each state to develop a comprehensive state plan for implementing mandatory changes in the administration of elections.

Changes include a centralized statewide voter registration system, replacing punch card and lever voting machines, improving voter education and poll worker training, requiring provisional ballots, and mandating that at least one voting machine be available per polling place which is accessible to voters with disabilities.

Supervisors have until Dec. 15 to secure the voting machines at the lowest possible cost from Diebold Inc. of North Canton, Ohio, under contract with the Secretary of State's office.

In other action on Monday, supervisors:

• Awarded a contract to Boyle Roofing to re-roof the Neshoba General’s Medical Arts Building at a cost of $52,000, which will be funded by a grant from the USDA.

• Approved a school bus turnaround for Robert Smith at 10420 Road 2428.

• Approved a 16th Section land lease for Randall and Tammy Dunaway.

• Approved a request by the sheriff to order two Crown Victoria cars with police packages and pay for them through a lease purchase agreement with funds from his budget.

• Approved a request for the emergency management director to purchase NCIC upgrade equipment for $4,958.32.

• Approved a request from Bell South to relocate buried cable on Road 383.

• Renewed an ad in the Mississippi Supervisors magazine.

• Authorized travel for supervisors to attend the mid winter conference in January in Jackson.

• Paid third quarter unemployment tax of $1,061.06.

• Approved a First Time Home Buyers Grant for Atara Boler.

• Authorized Energy Systems to perform annual service on emergency generators for $2,012.

• Paid sales tax of $346 from concession sales at coliseum.

• Advertised for bids on RV pads at the coliseum.

• Approved expenses for medical examiner Marshall Prince to attend a class in Jackson.

• Authorized $2,500 in compensation to the tax assessor for collecting city taxes through the county office.