The future of voting: Lee supervisor of elections seeks E-poll books to cut wait times

Maryann Batlle, (@MaryannBatlle)

The 2008 general election was a very good one for Sharon Harrington. A little more than 85 percent of Lee County’s registered voters cast a ballot, which the supervisor of elections counts as a triumph.

“I’m proud of that,” said Harrington, Lee’s supervisor of elections.

Four years later, Harrington had a “very bad one.” The night of the 2012 general election, Harrington sat in her office watching everything “go down the toilet” at her precincts. Voters got caught in long lines; turnout dropped to just below 69 percent.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Harrington said.

To avoid the last scenario in future elections, Harrington is seeking $749,846 from the county to purchase 785 electronic poll books, known as e-poll books, and other equipment. She said the new technology will streamline her operations and cut voter wait times.

E-poll books have the ability to perform a lot of the work traditionally done on paper. Harrington’s e-poll books would be Apple iPads stocked with software that would, among other things, allow poll workers to check in voters at precincts with just the scan of a driver’s license.

“That’s going to alleviate having to juggle the big paper book,” Harrington said.

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