By Frank Lewis
Secretary of State Jon Husted announced on Monday that county boards of elections may begin moving forward with the purchase of e-pollbooks. The General Assembly appropriated $12.7 million to aid county governments in covering the cost of upgrading to e-pollbooks during the biennial budget (Am. Sub. H.B. 64) approved on June 30.
“E-pollbooks help voters more efficiently find their correct voting precinct which leads to less confusion and shorter wait times. We know that e-pollbooks create a better voting experience for voters and poll workers” Husted said.
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.
The Scioto County Board of Elections will also implement the use of e-pollbooks. In August Husted advised county boards of elections on the amount of funding available to each board for the implementation of e-pollbooks.
“We are going to do the e-pollbooks,” Scioto County Board of Elections Director Julia Gearheart said at the time of the announcement. “We’re not guaranteeing that we’re going to do them before the November election. We are definitely going to do them, it’s just the timeframe as to when we’re going to do them.”
Gearheart said her office traveled to a demonstration of e-pollbooks by different companies.
“We’ll have to see if we have it available for this year or next year,” Gearheart said. “Going into a presidential primary it’s kind of rough to do it also. So we’re looking into that to see if maybe we could possibly do it for the general (election) so we wouldn’t have to go into a presidential primary with the electronic pollbooks because that would be a very hard transition also. We’d like to try to do it in the November general now because of that, but it’s kind of rough to do the funding right now for it.”
The project is not without concerns.
“The costs associated with the administration of elections weigh heavily on the minds of county commissioners,” County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) Executive Director Suzanne Dulaney said. “CCAO greatly appreciates the General Assembly, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and the Ohio Association of Election Officials for their leadership and support to provide state funding for electronic poll books. Electronic poll books have the ability to increase efficiency to counties when administering elections.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.