Mercer, Hancock and Henry counties are among the 12 Ohio counties today using electronic pollbooks to streamline the voting process. The goal among statewide election boards is to have them in place in all of Ohio’s 88 counties by the presidential election in 2016.
This is possible because the state has allocated $12.7 million to pay for pay 85 percent of each county’s cost.
E-pollbooks eliminate the need for poll workers to flip through bulky printed pollbooks to locate a voter. Instead, when a voter arrives at a polling location to cast a ballot, e-pollbooks allow elections officials to quickly and easily pull up the voter’s information by either entering their name or by simply scanning an identification card, like a driver’s license. They can help redirect voters who are in the wrong location to the correct polling places. They also can notify poll workers if a voter already voted absentee or during the early voting period.
The 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, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office reports. For example, elections officials in Montgomery County have indicated that prior to using e-pollbooks, the average check-in time for voters was two to three minutes. Using e-pollbooks, the county was able to cut the wait time by 80 percent to an average of 30 seconds during the 2012 Presidential Election.
As more counties choose to take advantage of this technology, it is important there are clear and consistent rules in place in order to maintain a high level of security and accuracy. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has established guidelines, but statewide standards should be addressed by Ohio lawmakers.
Besides Mercer, Hancock and Henry counties, others using e-pollbooks are Athens, Butler, Carroll, Highland, Licking, Montgomery, Richland, Stark and Washington.
Husted will travel to a polling location in Cincinnati today to meet with poll workers and preview the county’s inaugural use of e-pollbooks.