[Screenshot image via pewtrusts]
The elections team at The Pew Charitable Trusts has released a new resource for tracking the use of electronic pollbooks nationwide. From Pew’s press release:
Electronic poll books—also known as e-poll books or EPBs—are digitized voter registries, used in place of paper lists to check in voters at polling places, which are gaining popularity in jurisdictions around the country because they help improve the efficiency and ease of citizens’ voting experiences. To examine trends in implementation, identify emerging best practices, inform users about innovations and potential improvements, and help guide states as they consider adopting or updating e-poll book systems, The Pew Charitable Trusts has released a new interactive tool that tracks state and local adoption and summarizes survey findings on e-poll book use across the nation.
E-poll books can perform a variety of functions that paper rolls cannot, such as ballot production, same-day registration, and verification of ballot totals after polls close. Jurisdictions in at least 27 states use e-poll books, but the design, function, and maintenance of those systems vary widely. Pew collected and compared information on five topics related to e-poll books:
- Whether a state required legislation to adopt EPBs.
- Who developed the necessary software and hardware.
- The functions and features that each state’s EPB offers.
- Whether EPBs within a state are linked locally or via the internet.
- What voter information is collected and stored.
State and county approaches to e-poll book technology vary depending on the size and needs of their electorates. Some states leverage existing technologies, such as proprietary vendor software or their own online voter registration systems, and two states—Colorado and Utah—developed new e-poll book software from the ground up. The scope of the data stored in and collected by the system also differs based on several factors, including the contents of a state’s voter records and desired functionality. For example, North Carolina uses its motor vehicle licensing databases to match voters’ ID photos to their e-poll book record.
In their responses, the surveyed states acknowledge challenges in developing, financing, and implementing e-poll book systems, but nevertheless, those that made the switch universally recommend their use.
As electronic pollbooks become more common, tools like this will be invaluable in helping states keep track of how and where they’re being used at the polls. Thanks to Pew’s elections team for compiling this information and sharing it with the field.
Have a safe weekend and stay tuned …