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E-poll book to speed up check-in for Addison voters

Election inspector Erich Senft (left) gets trained on how to use the new e-poll book by Addison Township Clerk Pauline Bennett. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
July 14, 2010 - Addison Township residents heading to their local precincts on Aug. 3 need not fear the prospect of standing in long voter check-in lines thanks to some new technology.

The smile on Addison Township Clerk Pauline Bennett's face could not be bigger as she showcased the electronic poll book, which allows registered voters to scan their drivers license when checking in to vote.

An e-poll book is downloaded software that allows election officials to review and/or process voter information during an election.

This program is used in place of the paper-based poll books.

Functions of the program include voter lookup, verification, identification, precinct assignment, ballot assignment, voter history update and other various functions such as name change, address change and redirecting voters to the proper precinct.

The process of scanning or swiping a driver's license will ultimately speed up the check-in process for voters at each of the district's three precincts.

Bennett applied for a grant to get the computer system through the Helping America Vote Act, a grant through the federal government.

Data is exported from qualified voter files and put into the e-poll book, which consists of a laptop, mouse and scanner.

Leonard resident Don DeLeeuw, who uploaded and set-up the e-poll book for Bennett, said that the state created the e-poll book to match the paper poll book they have been using for years.

"They provided for us through the grant three laptops, one for each precinct, and we will be able to use the programs to monitor the election," he added.

The software is not mandatory, but clerks who choose to use the technology must go through training sessions before they train the election inspectors.

Before, the elections inspectors would have to use a paper poll book and manually find a voter's name on a poll list and highlight to show that they had received a ballot.

"With this new poll book, voters are going to receive their application to vote and they will have to have their driver's license out because picture ID is now a requirement and I will have a scanner that is going to scan their license," Bennett said.

"If they are a registered voter for that precinct, their name is going to come up on the screen and the ballot numbers are going to come forward as well," Bennett added. "This is going to speed up the line and be efficient."

Bennett noted that if a person is not registered with that particular precinct, they will show as an unregistered voter. The clerk would then receive a call and look-up the voter and determine where they should go.

"This is going to speed up the process as well," Bennett noted. "Instead of looking through book after book, it will be automatic."

The e-poll book will also keep a running track of how many people have voted during the day.

At the very bottom of the computer screen is a voter number, which keeps track of how many voters voted during the entire day.

According to Bennett, the voting number ties directly into the actual voting equipment of the M100 so they can compare notes and see if they balance.

"Even though this is doing two separate things, it is actually a tool to assist the election inspectors to make their job easier," Bennett said.

Even with the new technology, she will still have people verifying voting applications, running the e-poll book and someone collecting the ballot stubs and voting applications and directing people to the M100 machine.

"It hasn't really eliminated people, it has just made their lives that much easier," she added.

At the end of the evening, everything from the e-poll machines will get tallied and sent to a flash drive, which will be sent to the clerk's office and printed out, which will then be submitted to the county.

The state has been piloting the e-pollbook since 2006. They successfully piloted the program in 2008 and had 40 jurisdictions using e-pollbook technology in 2009.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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