Electronic poll books to speed up voter check-in process

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — Alabama voters will be hitting the polls on Super Tuesday to vote for presidential candidates, US Senate candidates and local candidates. But arguably one of the hardest parts is waiting in line for your turn.

When the process to vote takes an extensive amount of time, some people may avoid exercising their right to vote. But for some counties, that lengthy paper check-in is a thing of the past.

“One of the things that we continue to introduce and we’ve had a great deal of success with is the electronic poll book,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

The electronic poll book — or poll pads — replace the paper books voters used to sign in to vote.

“It expedites the check-in process, which allows us to make sure more voters get a positive experience when they go to the polls, reducing their wait time 60-75 percent,” said Merrill.

Merrill said Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger has worked hard in making sure the process works in Madison County.

“We started testing poll pads in 2016. We implemented county-wide in 2018, and they’ve eliminated the paper check-in process,” said Barger.

Limestone County will be putting the poll pads to use starting Election Day.

“The lines should not be long anymore. Should be able to just walk right in and hopefully not be in line over five minutes, if that long,” said Limestone County Board of Registrars Chairwoman Sandy Smith.

This is how it works. The voter’s driver’s license will be scanned and they will sign their name on an iPad device. A nearby machine will print out a receipt that includes a valid voting ID. Voters will then take that receipt to the ballot clerk to receive their chosen ballot.

“We’ve had a great response from the public, and of course our election workers like them as it eliminates a lot of the hand work that had to be done,” said Barger.

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