By Frank Lewis
The Scioto County Board of Elections will soon implement the use of e-pollbooks. On Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon 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. “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 by different companies and says implementing the e-pollbooks now depends on the rest of the funding.
“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 wouldan’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 state legislature 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) enacted on June 30. The state funding is intended to cover up to 85 percent of each county’s purchase cost with funds being distributed based on county population.
“Actually we would get $72,855.23,” Gearheart said. “Our registered voter total is 44,096 and we would receive $72,855.23 from the state.”
According to Husted, E-Pollbooks will make elections simpler for both Ohio voters and the staff and volunteers who assist them on Election Day.
“We would have to have one electronic pollbook per precinct and we would have to have them in our office and we would have to have extras,” Gearheart said. “We were looking at approximately 88-90 for our county. They are approximately $1,400 each and that’s a rough figure just to purchase them and that’s not to maintain them.”
In partnership with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Secretary Husted is working to help counties move forward with the procurement of the new technology ahead of the 2015 General Election.
“Ohioans already wait less time in line when casting their ballot at the polls than most Americans and implementation of e-pollbooks statewide is the next step we can take to lead the nation forward in making it easier to vote and hard to cheat,” Husted said.
Though counties are not required to implement e-pollbook technology before the 2015 General Election, Secretary Husted has encouraged them to move forward in time for the upgrade to be in place for the Presidential Election held in 2016.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis