COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urged county boards of elections to implement the use of electronic pollbooks (e-pollbooks) ahead of the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30, 2017. In 2015, the General Assembly appropriated $12.75 million as part of the current biennial budget cycle in order to aid county governments in covering the cost of upgrading to e-pollbooks. Boards must submit the necessary documentation to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) by May 31, 2017 in order to receive funding.
“E-Pollbooks represent a huge improvement in election technology by speeding up check-in times at the polls, reducing lines and providing more direction to both election officials and voters so we can improve the experience for everyone,” Secretary Husted said. “This is an opportunity for county boards to upgrade their equipment at a significantly reduced cost and they should not let this opportunity pass them by.”
The state funding is intended to cover up to 85 percent of each county’s purchase cost with funds being distributed based on the number of voters in each county at the time of the bill’s enactment. Any unused funds at the end of the fiscal year will be forfeited.
To date, 61 counties have implemented e-pollbook technology with 21 having done so prior to the approval of the grant money. Counties that had already implemented e-pollbooks at the time the legislation was passed were still eligible to take part in the state grant program in order to recoup part of the costs associated with the upgrade.
Though boards of elections are under no requirement to implement the new technology, Secretary Husted has urged them to do so as it has proven to significantly improve experiences at the polls for both voters and election officials.
- Secy. Husted’s reminder to counties on e-pollbook funding
- Secy. Husted’s initial e-pollbook announcement
- Current map of counties using e-pollbooks
- List of approved e-pollbook vendors
- Max e-pollbook funding by county
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 accurately pull up the voter’s information by either entering their name or by simply scanning an identification card, like a driver’s license. Counties already using e-pollbooks (map available here) have reported a decrease in the amount of time it takes for a voter to check in at a polling location. For example, elections officials in Montgomery County have indicated that prior to using e-pollbooks, the average check-in time for voters was 2-3 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.