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iPads bring elections into the 21st century

Tennille-Lynn Millo, Special to the Daily Sentinel
Posted 11/2/22

Some Oneida County voters will see something new when they go to vote on Election Day.

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iPads bring elections into the 21st century


ONEIDA COUNTY — Some Oneida County voters will see something new when they go to vote on Election Day. This is because the Oneida County Board of Elections is rolling out electronic poll books that will make voter check-in and signature verification uniform.

A new system of electronic poll books replaced oversized paper poll books, tables organized by election districts, and inspectors struggling to find names and tear-off ballots.

Now, with a simple search on an iPad, poll workers can access individual voters’ registration records, verify their signatures, and ensure they receive the correct ballot in approximately 35 to 40 seconds; eliminating long lines and waits associated with traditional voting.

Similar to the kiosk at a supermarket counter, electronic poll books are mounted on a swivel, complete with a stylus, to allow easy access for both voters and poll workers.

But, before voters panic about the latest use of technology, the Oneida County Board of Elections assures everyone that voting will be easy, carefree, and full of workers ready to walk them through the process.

“In late 2021, the Oneida County Board of Legislators approved the purchase of an electronic poll book and an on-demand printer from KNOWiNK, so although some voters may be unfamiliar with electronic poll books, they’ve been in use in Oneida County and throughout New York State since early voting began in 2019,” Board of Elections Commissioners Sarah F. Bormann and Nichole D. Shortell stated. “Our poll workers have gone through specialized training to ensure they are ready to make this transition easy for everyone.”

Using KNOWiNK’s Poll Pad technology, poll workers can search for individuals with a few letters of the voter’s last name, allowing them to locate voters quicker than when flipping through paper poll books. Following voter verification on the poll pad, KNOWiNK’s on-demand ballot printer produces a machine-printed ballot that voters can use at a traditional privacy booth to cast their ballot.

The Poll Pad system updates continuously, preventing voters from voting in multiple precincts or voting in person after voting absentee. Through its livestream connection, the Board of Elections can monitor the status of all Poll Pads, including their battery life, view the number of ballots issued or spoiled, and directly video or text message poll workers. Additionally, there are a few luxury features, including Google Maps which directs voters to their correct poll sites.

“One of the most aggravating things voters encounter is arriving at the wrong polling location. If this happens, the Poll Pads can print out turn-by-turn directions to guide them to their proper Ward voting location, or they can opt to have the directions sent directly to their mobile phone,” Bormann and Shortell said. “In addition to checking in voters more efficiently and accurately, this equipment will track where and how voters cast ballots, and constantly update poll books with new and changed voter information. On-demand printing will also save the county thousands of dollars per election on unused ballot printing and shredding.”

While the Poll Pad will act as a significant benefit to Oneida County on Election Day, new scanning and analysis techniques will allow the Oneida County Board of Elections to determine future staffing and voter needs, which will ultimately save on manpower and paper/storage/disposal costs, while streamlining the voting process, protecting voter fraud, and improving information accuracy.


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