CLEVELAND - If you haven't voted since last November you haven't used the new electronic poll books to sign in at your polling place. The e-poll books were in use in the spring and fall primaries but with low turnout, few have likely used them.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections voted last year to purchase 1,450 electronic poll books from Tenex Software Solutions of Tampa, Florida to replace the alphabetical paper poll books that are printed for each election.
Most of the $1.7 million cost of the machines was paid for by a $12 million state program that encouraged voting jurisdictions to upgrade to electronic poll books.
Voters arriving will present their license, the poll worker will scan the barcode on the back which will bring up the voters information and space for them to electronically sign in. Once the worker compares the signature, a ballot will be issued.
If by chance the voter is at the wrong voting location the system can immediately tell them their correct voting spot as well as print out directions if needed.
In addition, the devices are connected electronically to the Board of Elections where they can be monitored for problems and give officials a real-time idea of what voter turnout is.
The electronic method was first introduced in 2015 to less than rave reviews in Hamilton County where 35 percent of polling places reported problems setting up on Election Day with 42 percent of locations having trouble locating voters.
"It wasn't the machines, it was the poll workers themselves who were not properly prepared," said Secretary of State Jon Husted at the time.
On those lessons, Cuyahoga County went to school.
"We learned a lot from the lessons learned down in Hamilton County so we did things better up here,” said Board of Elections Director Pat McDonald. “We had more robust curriculum, we had longer training hours and we provided two training sessions for the voters here in the county."