Hundreds of voters and poll workers came down to the Board of Elections (BOE) on Tuesday to catch a first glimpse of electronic (e-) poll books during a mock election.
What’s all the excitement about, you ask? Paper poll books are becoming a thing of the past as voting jurisdictions in 32 states have already made the switch to e-poll books. This new technology expedites the voter check-in process, improves election reporting, saves money (and trees for that matter!), alerts poll workers if the voter already voted or is at the wrong location, and provides many other benefits to both voters and boards of elections.
Cuyahoga County is on track to implement e-poll books at all voting locations for the 2017 General Election. With such an important decision on the table, we wanted to give our staff, poll workers, board members and voters the opportunity to test drive e-poll books from Tenex and KNOWiNK, the two companies we are deciding between. Hence, the mock election!
Just how does a mock election work?
Leading up to (Mock) Election Day, both vendors trained staff how to use their e-poll book equipment. Hundreds of voting scenarios were created and divided into envelopes containing the voter’s name, form of I.D., political party choice, and scenario instructions. Our goal was recreate any potential check-in possible to see how the equipment handles various situations. For instance, the voter changed their name without updating their registration, they are at the wrong polling location, they do not have the proper form of I.D., no issues, etc.
On (Mock) Election Day, members of staff took turns playing the roles of poll workers and voters to experience each product from both perspectives. Staff also went through the motions of setting up and tearing down the equipment just as if they were at a polling location on Election Day.
All participants completed surveys about their experience with both products.
Overall, the mock election was a fun and informative way to try out two kinds of e-poll books. Some of our staff weighed in on what they thought of this terrific day:
“My favorite part of the day was seeing how many voters actually came and how excited they were. I enjoyed seeing our poll workers having fun with the e-poll books and even jumping in to help staff manage the lines and survey table,” said Shantiel Soeder, Election and Compliance Administrator, who has been leading this initiative from the start.
“Our staff became more knowledgeable about the e-poll books and their confidence really grew as the day went on. It was cool to see their excitement, and it goes to show the technology is easy to learn and use,” said Sean Webster, Business Administration Manager.
“I love that our poll workers and voters were eager to experience the new technology and see how it will benefit the voting process,” said Ruth Rachel Przybojewski, Supervisor, Poll Worker Department.
The Board of Directors will choose between Tenex and KNOWiNK based on the recommendation from staff in the weeks to come.