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Officials hoping Electronic Pollbooks will cut waiting time at polling sites

By Carol McIntire

George Keyser, deputy elections director, helps train poll workers on e-pollbook operation, while (in photo at top of page) Amanda Tubaugh, director of elections, introduces the pollbook to election day workers at a training session held Tuesday of last week. Keyser is offering assistance to Cathy Shawver (left) and Leana Weir.

Waiting in long lines to cast a vote on Election Day may be a thing of the past in Carroll County.

County Board of Elections officials plan to unveil a new form of electronic poll book countywide during the Nov. 5 general election to check in registered voters. Amanda Tubaugh, director of elections, said the county used the new system, known as e-pollbooks, at the five precincts involved in a special election in August 2013. “They worked very well,” said Tubaugh. “We are excited about being able to bring this technology to Carroll County.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said e-pollbooks eliminate the need for poll workers to flip through bulky printed pollbooks to locate the name of a voter. “Instead, when a voter arrives at a polling location to cast a ballot, e-pollbooks allow election officials to quickly and easily pull up the voter’s information by either entering their name or simply scanning an identification card such as a driver’s license,” he said.

He noted counties already using e-pollbooks have reported a decrease in the amount of time it takes for a voter to check in at a polling location. As an example, election officials in Montgomery County said prior to using the e-pollbooks, the average check-in time for a voter was 2-3 minutes. Using the new system, the county cut that time to an average of 30 seconds per person during the 2012 Presidential Election.

George Keyser, deputy elections director, said during the August special election, the machines registered 500 voters in one precinct with no problem.

Tubaugh and Keyser demonstrated the new system. “It’s really easy for the voter,” Keyser said. “All they have to do is sign their name on the electronic tablet using a rubber tipped pen.”

Tubaugh said the machine has the capability to scan a driver’s license for voter information purposes, but does not capture the information. “Voters don’t need to worry about their information being scanned and saved,” Tubaugh explained. “The machine reads the name of the voter from the identification card and pulls up the information for the poll worker. It’s that simple.”

The machines are also capable of providing birthdates and addresses for registered voters and can also locate the correct voting precinct for voters who are unsure of their correct precinct.

The machines only allow a voter to register once, thus preventing voter fraud, Tubaugh noted.

The machines will also make checkout at the end of the election simpler for pollworkers and should reduce the amount of time it takes to close the polls. “The system provides the number of voters who cast ballots at the end of the day and the pollworkers will have to make sure that number matches the number of ballots,” Tubaugh said.

“Electronic pollbooks are something we have been considering for some time now,” Tubaugh stated. “We felt this system was more advanced and simpler for the voter to use than other systems. The cost of the system fit our budget so we decided to purchase them.”

Money to pay for the 25 systems is coming from a special Board of Elections fund. The Board of Elections charges political subdivisions for election costs. The money goes into a special fund to be used for equipment.

The total cost, $66,000 over a five-year period, includes equipment costs of $49,875 for equipment and a per-year support fee. Tubaugh said half the equipment cost has already been paid and the remainder will be paid in January.

One e-pollbook will be located in each of the county’s 23 precincts. The other two will be used as backups.

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