FRANKFORT — Electronic poll books will be coming to all counties in Kentucky sometime later this year.
Currently, when voters check in at precincts, they manually sign their name to a ledger. However, with the new electronic poll books, voters will electronically sign their name, according to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“I’m extremely excited to announce electronic poll books are finally coming to Kentucky,” Grimes said. “These user-friendly, tablet-based poll books will speed up the check-in process at polling locations and make election administration more efficient.”
“Electronic poll books will save Kentucky hundreds of thousands of dollars in the years to come,” Grimes said. “This significant election administration advancement is possible through a partnership the commonwealth has forged with Tenex Solutions. Tenex and the State Board of Elections will work together on a phased roll out with intensive focus on training for county clerks and precinct elections officials.”
According to Grimes, several counties across the state will use the electronic poll books for the upcoming May primary election with all Kentucky precincts using them for elections afterward.
According to Bradford Queen, with Grimes’ office, several clerks around the state used the electronic poll books for the 2016 primary and general elections as a part of a pilot program, all with positive experiences.
“It went very well,” he said. “We received positive feedback from voters and precinct election officials.. We had six counties in the primary election that year and seven in the general election.”
Local county clerks responded to the roll out of the poll books with hesitation as they have yet to see the product.
Mason County Clerk Stephanie Schumacher said she has yet to see the poll books and did not wish to comment until she had a chance to use them.
Fleming County Clerk Jarrod Fritz expressed dissatisfaction with the way the roll out was being handled at the state level.
“I don’t know much about them,” he said. “I haven’t seen the poll books or a presentation on them, so I can’t say if they’ll be better for our election process or not. We have older people working election precincts and I don’t want to throw them off. It’s difficult to find poll workers. This may be a better thing for us, but we won’t know that until they show it to us. I just don’t understand changing something that works. If they can’t fund education and roads, how are they funding this?”
Bracken County Clerk Rae Jean Poe said she is also unsure about the new electronic system, but she will not be using it for the May primary election.
“I don’t really know much about it,” she said. “So, we’re not going to use it for the upcoming election. It’s just going to be too busy. We just received an email the other day about them, but no one has shown us anything; no presentation.”
Queen also said the funding for the electronic poll books would come from the federally funded “Help America Vote Act.”
“That was a program funded through the federal government that gave states money for the improvement of elections,” he said. “There is some money left in Kentucky and we are expending part of that for these poll books.”
According to Queen, using the poll books will save money for the state in the long run because they will not have to pay for printing and shipping of paper precinct rosters.
“The counties will also benefite from savings on shipping costs,” he said.