Clinton County Board of Elections officials are demonstrating a new election system that will be rolled out this weekend as early voting begins across New York state.
Clinton County has used paper-based voter registration rolls to process voters – until now. With the implementation of early voting on Saturday, county election officials are also rolling out a new electronic system that poll workers will use to process voters. Republican Election Commissioner Greg Campbell says they are still using the same voting machines but the process with poll workers is different. “What they’re doing with the Poll Pads is allowing poll workers to use those instead of the books to look voters up.”
Board of Elections Senior Technician and Democratic Election Specialist Jerry Klaus is responsible for the installation and implementation of the new Poll Pad, an I-Pad based system, that poll workers will use. “You come right in to the table. They will ask your name. You’ll put it in the system. They will verify your address. You will actually sign on the Poll Pad. It will immediately print out a receipt at which time the ballot will come out of our printer station over there. You’ll take your receipt that they gave you. You’ll walk over and we’ll have two people sitting there to verify you that you get the correct ballot. And then the system operates as it always has. You go out to the booth, mark your ballot and then you’ll exit out this door.”
The initial rollout of the system in Clinton County is limited. Klaus notes that the new Poll Pads will be used for early voting beginning Saturday and then on Election Day only at the two polling places inside the County Government Center. “On Election Day these will not go out to the general poll sites yet. We’re going to use them in Ward 5, which is out in the hall in front of DMV and Ward 6, which is in this room as a way for us to monitor the process and see how the voters and the poll workers accept it. Then starting in April with the presidential primary these will go out to all poll sites. Now the reason we’re not doing it before that is training. It takes a while to train all the poll workers on how to use this.”
During a mock election Campbell and County Legislator Mark Henry demonstrated how poll workers will use Poll Pad. “Your name sir? (Mark M-A-R-K last name Henry H-E-N-R-Y) OK accept. OK, sir if you will just sign your name at the bottom there. And it shows your signature that we have on file (Yup) so we can compare it to the signature you just did. Now we know that signing a Poll Pad isn’t the same as signing a piece of paper but that’s obviously close. Submit. There you go.”
The system allows elections officials to monitor the election in real time. Klaus emphasizes the Poll Pad system contains only voter data files. “No election results whatsoever is associated with this system at all. All I can do, call out of here, is who voted, how many voted for each town, etc. But the counting part is done out of the machines in the back and there’s been no change with that.”
Clinton County received two grants of $54,000 and $39,000 from New York state, which paid for acquisition and implementation.