Creekside voting

Voters wait in line to vote at Creekside Elementary School in eastern Limestone County during a previous election.

Limestone County voters may soon be signing in electronically at future elections, as opposed to signing a paper roll.

The County Commission will vote Monday on a resolution to use electronic poll books for future elections. As part of the current budget cycle, the County Commission appropriated an additional $100,000 to the Limestone County Probate Judge's Office for electronic poll books.

The devices, which are iPads or similar-type tablets, were used as part of a pilot program during the 2016 election. At Thursday's commission work session, Probate Judge Charles Woodroof said he was happy with the way the devices worked four years ago, even though they were only used at two locations. He said poll workers also loved using them.

The $100,000 appropriation will cover the purchase of the devices, though Woodroof said the state comptroller would reimburse the county for a little more than half of the 70 needed poll books. The judge said each book can hold a list of about 1,500 names, which means only one or two may be needed at some precincts. At Lamb of God Lutheran Church, the county's largest precinct with 6,000 voters, Woodroof said four poll books would be needed.

The judge told commissioners the electronic poll books also reduce the chance of human error. For example, a poll worker may forget to write whether a voter chose to cast a Republican or Democratic ballot in a primary, which they are now required to do as part of the state's crossover voting law. With the electronic poll books, the county's voter lists are pre-loaded, so it's easier for a poll worker to select the correct party ballot.

The back of each voter's driver's license or voter identification card is also scanned so poll workers can verify the identity of the voter. Woodroof said switching over to the electronic method should reduce check-in wait times.

The commission will have to determine which poll book vendor to use, and Woodroof said there are only three who have been certified by the state. He told commissioners that of the 30 counties using the electronic poll books, 20 are with one vendor, while 10 are with another. He said a third vendor services no counties.

He said requests for proposals went out last month, and he hopes to have a vendor narrowed down by Jan. 16. He asked the commission to consider taking action on the decision at its Jan. 21 meeting.

The poll books will be certified for four years, which means they can be used for two election cycles. At the end of the four-year cycle, Woodroof said the devices would need to be recertified for another four years, which may require a software update. He said the decision to purchase new poll books would be based on guidance from the Secretary of State's Office.

Poll workers needed

Woodroof said he's seeking applications from anyone interested in being a poll worker. He told commissioners he had several longtime workers retire following the 2018 general election.

The only requirement for being a poll worker is being a registered voter. Workers receive $100 and poll inspectors receive $155 for working an election day.

Visit https://bit.ly/2QfSfY2 to download an application.

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