Morenci using electronic poll book 2012.06.13

Written by David Green.

leasa.poll bookPush aside the thick, paper book. Forget the ruler and felt-tipped highlighter pen. When the next election rolls around, Morenci will have gone electronic.

It’s not quite that much of a change yet, says assistant city clerk Leasa Slocum. The city will join most other government units in the state in using an electronic poll book, but the backup system will still be used at least for the next election. Slocum said eventually the paper poll book will be a thing of the past.

She’s ready for the change. She sees the new system as easier to use and it should aid voters in some cases.

Slocum and city administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder traveled last week to Lansing for a training session. The city now has a free laptop, provided through a grant, that contains the city’s voting records. The unit also comes with a card reader to verify a voter’s registration.

On election day, voters will swipe their driver’s license through the reader and their name will quickly appear on the monitor. After a couple of clicks of the mouse, the poll worker is directed to issue a ballot. Workers will no longer have to search through a poll book to locate a voter’s name.

“Eventually it’s going to simplify things,” Schroeder said, although it might take some time to adjust. That’s why the state wants everyone to have a “practice election” before the presidential election in November. Morenci will put the system to use at the Aug. 7 primary election.

If a registered voter forgets to bring a driver’s license or state ID card to the polls, he or she will still be able to vote after signing a form.

Not only should it speed up the voting process, Slocum said, but it will also simplify tallying votes and checking records when the polls close. The voting records will be delivered to the county election office on a flash drive that plugs into the laptop.

Schroeder and Slocum will train the city’s other poll workers in how to use the the electronic book. It’s a simple process, Slocum said, but it has to be done correctly. 

The only cost to the city is an annual $80 maintenance fee.

• In order to vote, a citizen must be registered at least 30 days before an election. Changes of address must be reported a local clerk or the Secretary of State office.

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