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Electronic Polling Books Come to Brazos County

When early voting starts Monday in Brazos County, election workers for the first time will be using electronic polling books.

Voter Registrar Kristy Roe says the new technology will debut during a presidential election in part because of a deadline to use state money.

Roe says a combination of funding sources paid for electronic polling books that will be used by election workers.

Roe says the electronic books will allow election workers to tell those who appear at the wrong location where they’re supposed to vote.

The e-books will save printing costs in future elections. Roe says voter registration lists will be printed as one of several back-up plans for this election.

KristyRoe101512ebook.mp3Kristy Roe visits with WTAW’s Bill Oliver.

News release courtesy of Brazos County Voter Registrar Kristy Roe:

Brazos County voters will notice something new when early voting begins for the November 6 elections. Election workers are being trained on a new electronic poll book system that will replace the old paper lists of registered voters. The system will provide a more accurate way of documenting who has voted as well as giving the election workers more information at their fingertips to assist those voters who may not be listed on the precinct lists at their location, or voters who may need to submit additional information prior to voting.

The project to replace the paper poll lists has been in the works since early March. Brazos County has almost 92,000 registered voters. That number of voters translates into almost 10,000 pages of poll lists for a general election. For a primary election, that number is quadrupled to provide copies for the election and for each political party. The logistics of getting the lists printed in the time frame between the end of early voting on Friday night, and issuing the certified lists to each precinct chair by Sunday afternoon has become a serious challenge. Sorting, handling and distributing the printed poll lists presents several problems, along with the requirement to maintain and store the lists for the requisite time after each election.

Both Kristeen Roe, the Brazos County Voter Registrar and Karen McQueen, the Brazos County Elections Administrator have been researching the different systems available for a few years, but it was not until earlier this year when State funds dedicated to Brazos County for the enhancement of voter registration were set to expire that the two decided to pull in the participating cities and schools to discuss the possibility of moving to an electronic list of voters. The two elected officials partnered with the Brazos County Commissioners’ Court, the City of Bryan, the City of College Station, Bryan ISD and College Station ISD to purchase the equipment and software. The group agreed on the ePollBook system available from Hart Intercivic, which is the same company that provided the election equipment used in Brazos County.

The first election workers will train Friday afternoon in preparation for the start of early voting on Monday. Each early voting location will have two ePollBooks, and each of the ePollBooks will be in communication with each other throughout the early voting process. As each voter is processed, all of the early voting locations will have immediate notification of that fact. Live time reports will be available to the election officials with the system, so that actual voter counts should be available at any point in the early voting process. Additionally, the system will provide a file of the participants to upload into the Texas Election Administration System (TEAM) at the end of the election. This will make the process of manually marking each voter from the paper poll lists much more accurate and much less time consuming.

While the timing of the change to electronic poll lists during a Presidential election is not exactly what election officials would like, multiple steps are being taken to provide backup options if any issues or equipment failures occur. Additional ePollbooks have been programmed and will be ready to issue to any polling place that may need replacement, and the elections department will go ahead and enter each day’s voters into the Texas Elections Administration System so the voter registration department can print one more set of poll lists for Election Day – as a last resort.

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Posted by on Oct 20 2012. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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