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Lake, Porter eye adding e-polling for November election

Updated: June 27, 2014 6:10AM



CROWN POINT — Electronic voter sign-in could be plugged in by the November primaries for both Lake and Porter counties.

The Lake County Election Board is taking a second shot at pricing for e-poll books that will digitize the sign-in process, reduce paperwork and provide real-time voter information. Officials last week agreed to go out to bid for the electronic poll books so they could make the purchase in time for November.

It is the second attempt at launching e-polling in the county. The election board had tried to get some e-poll books in time to launch a trial run at the early voter sites for the May primary. Officials were forced to cancel those plans after a change in state law went into effect requiring the new technology to be used at every voting site or not at all.

Michelle Fajman, Lake election board director, said the electronic polling books will cuts costs while helping to improve efficiency at the polling places by providing real-time information.

If a voter shows up at the wrong precinct, the e-poll books would provide the precinct information the voter needed. Now, poll workers are expected to look up the information for the voter.

The e-poll books also are a tool in preventing voter fraud. Because the data is in real-time, poll workers will know if a voter has already voted in another precinct. Currently, that information also must be determined manually after the paper books are reviewed following the election.

Porter County Clerk Karen Martin said she, too, is considering the electronic polling books for November. The county has purchased 15 of the books and set up a test area for voters and workers to try using them.

“The voters registration has a sandbox area. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to purchase something in mass quantities if it isn’t going to work,” Martin said.

Like Fajman, Martin is hopeful the books do work. Not only will the books help minimize mistakes that can happen occasionally by human error when voters sign in at their precinct, they will speed up the sign-in process and reduce the number of poll workers needed on Election Day to do so.

Martin said her county sometimes has difficulty finding enough workers to man all the precincts throughout the county. If the e-polling books do work it will help reduce that problem significantly, she said.

“If you can allow that person to vote most efficiently and economically, it’s a good thing,” Martin said.

The test area will be up and running for most of the summer. She encourages taxpayers to come out and see how the equipment works and provide feedback.

The decision on whether or not to use the books in November will be based in part on those comments.

“It all depends on how the testing goes,” she said.



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